November 30, 2008
A 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda
The 21st Century Right to Know project, coordinated by OMB Watch, has issued some 70 recommendations to the Obama administration and Congress. The recommendations emphasize the need to move the federal government's information policies into the 21st century by adopting Web 2.0 thinking and strategies. They fall into three categories: National Security and Secrecy; Usability of Information; and Creating a Government Environment for Transparency.
The report, Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-To-Know Agenda, identifies the following Right-to-Know principles:
- An informed public is essential to democracy and can help create a more effective, accountable government;
- Government should commit to openness as a principle, complying not merely with the letter of openness laws but with the spirit of transparency;
- Information available to the public should be defined as broadly as possible, including multiple formats such as electronic communications, audio, photos, and video;
- Exemptions to disclosure should be as narrow and specific as possible – and the burden of proof should lie with the government when exemptions are used;
- Access to records or meetings should not require people to provide name, address, or purpose for seeking access except in specific and narrow circumstances;
- Government should make greater use of redaction to release partial documents when it cannot provide full disclosure, as opposed to withholding the entire record;
- Information should be made available in a timely manner and should be accurate, complete, and authentic;
- Interactive technologies can improve access and use of information while decreasing long-term costs; and
- To the extent government outsources functions, contractors should comply with openness requirements.
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