Editorial: Obama hasn’t fulfilled promise of transparency

D o as I say, not as I do.

That apparently is the way too many members of the Obama administration think the game is played — not by pledges set out by the president and not by open government laws on the books.

Almost two-thirds of President Barack Obama's Cabinet agencies — nine of 15 — have yet to release details of their out-of-town travel records six months after Bloomberg News filed requests for them under the Freedom of Information Act. Bloomberg asked for records on taxpayer-supported travel in fiscal year 2011 for 57 Cabinet departments and major government agencies.

Among the group thumbing their noses at the requests are some officials at the top of the government food chain — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services.

And, Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Department of Justice monitors FOIA responses.

The law requires agencies to respond to requests within 20 working days. Watchdogs say the delays show the president hasn't fulfilled his promise of greater transparency, and one group found that more than half of 99 federal offices ignored a directive to overhaul the way they respond to filings.

"Has (Obama) given up on that mantle of being the transparency reformer?" asked John Wonderlich, policy director at Washington-based open-government group the Sunlight Foundation.

For all those non-compliers, here's a little refresher course. Posted on the White House website is the president's "Transparency and Open Government" memo:

"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. … My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. …"

So there it is in black and white. It's past time these officials followed the law. The president should issue a reminder for them to do it right now.

— Albuquerque Journal

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