Tags: US | Government | Secrecy

Mixed Report on Efforts to Open the Government

Tuesday, 07 Sep 2010 07:01 AM

A group that opposes secrecy in government says the federal government significantly reduced its backlog of document requests from the public last year but also slowed its pace of opening previously confidential material to public view.

The government's record is mixed, according to a report Tuesday from OpenTheGovernment.org that also suggested that the Obama administration could be less secretive than its predecessor, the Bush administration.

"The record to date is mixed, but some indicators are trending in the right direction," the report from a coalition of 75 public interest groups said.

The biggest improvement was in the processing of requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The backlog of requests declined by 40 percent, although more than 77,000 cases remained open at the end of the 2009 government spending year on Sept. 30.

At the same time, the rate at which the government declassified documents previously stamped "Top Secret," "Secret," or "Confidential" declined by 10 percent from 2008 to 2009. There was, however, a 10 percent drop in decisions to classify documents initially. The 183,224 decisions to mark new material classified were the fewest since 1999, the group said.

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