Open Government

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 Recently, information is being withdrawn, restricted and changed on what seem best characterized as ideological bases.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

Open Government and the Obama Administration

  • March 5, 2009 – Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra announced the creation of
  • 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.

Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government by the ALA Washington Office