The Washington Office actively engages in promoting the public's "Right to Know" information created and collected by or for the federal government. This concept is an expansion and strengthening of the long-standing principle that government should make this information available.
From 1981 until 1998, the Washington Office published Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government, a selective chronology of efforts to restrict and privatize government information. These efforts continue and the Washington Office continues to be actively engaged in combating them. The public's right to information has come under steady pressure and challenge since September 11th, on the ostensible grounds of "national security" and "sensitive homeland security." Recently, information is being withdrawn, restricted and changed on what seem best characterized as ideological bases.
Moreover, the challenges to right-to-know are increasingly to public access to records of the federal government, through statutory restrictions, administrative actions, and Executive Orders. The ability to obtain access over time to government information that is 'born digital' is another problem of increasing dimensions. The American Library Association also signed on to the document, “ Moving Towards a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda: Recommendations to President-elect Obama and Congress." (pdf)
ALA Council Resolutions
May 9, 2013 - The White House has issued an Executive Order, Making open and machine readable the new default for government information and a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, Open Data Policy – Managing information as an asset.
February 22, 2013 - John Holdren, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. The memo, Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research, is the Obama Administrations response to last year’s We the People petition.
May 23, 2012 - President Obama released his Building a 21st Century Digital Government memo; introducing a new strategy created by the Federal Chief Information Officer, Steven VanRoekel. The memo, “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People” builds on prior initiatives, including one on improving government websites that was born from Executive Order 13571 – Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service.
- December 6, 2011 – The White House requested the public’s input on one of the National Action Plan initiatives.
- September 20, 2011 - President Obama released the U.S. Government National Action Plan as a part of the Administration’s participation in the international initiative – Open Government Partnership.
- January 28, 2011 – CRS released a report, The Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative: Issues for Congress.
- 2010 – American Library Association participates in Openthegovernment.org’s evaluation of the open government plans.
- March 5, 2009 – Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra announced the creation of Data.gov.
- March 19, 2009 – In response to President Obama’s memo, the Attorney General released a FOIA memo with further guidelines (pdf). According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice, the guidelines will direct all executive branch departments and agencies to apply a presumption of openness when administering FOIA.
- January 21, 2009 – President Obama released his FOIA memo and his Transparency and Open Government memo.