To mark the importance of government transparency, Americans are celebrating Sunshine Week (March 10–16).
“A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency,” President Obama has said. “Openness,” he added, will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”
To this end, the Obama administration has been actively soliciting input from citizens and demanding that U.S. government agencies improve the administration of public requests for various types of information under the Freedom of Information Act. U.S. government agencies have been directed to apply “a presumption of openness” in responding to requests and to make it a priority to respond promptly. In addition, U.S. agencies have been encouraged to make information available proactively via websites and other means, without the need for citizens to make a request.
The results have been encouraging. In 2012, the government as a whole processed more than 665,000 requests — a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year — and released records in full or in part to 93.4 percent of more than 465,000 requests for information disclosure.
See the White House blog on Sunshine Week.