September 4, 2009

White House to open up visitor logs

In a welcome reversal of previous policy, the White House has decided to release its visitor logs:
Until now, Obama had followed the Bush policy of keeping visitor logs secret. News organizations and watchdog groups had sought to make the records public to show who was influencing administration policy on health care, financial rules and other issues.

The new policy would begin in mid-September. Electronic visitor logs maintained by the Secret Service would be released three to four months after visits are made. The disclosure would include who set up the meeting, where it was held and for how long. Specific requests for visits before Sept. 15 would be dealt with individually.
While this administration has disappointed time and again on the issue of transparency, this is one step in the right direction. Knowledge of who is visiting the White House is paramount to understanding how policy is shaped.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a statement applauding the move which settles their previous lawsuit about the visitor logs.

Let's hope this is the first of many steps the Obama administration takes to make the White House more transparent.