President Joe Biden has yet to fully carry out his vow to make the White House more transparent, with open government advocates describing his current policies as “insufficient,” to Politico.
Although Biden brought back daily press briefings, he has not held a news conference of his own, and has not released the White House’s virtual visitor logs, including the names of the people attending virtual meetings, or the schedules for the president and vice president. Politico notes that dozens of groups focused on good government have urged the administration to focus on transparency.
“The steps they've taken are welcome, but insufficient to the moment and the need,” said Alex Howard, the director of the Digital Democracy Project with the left-leaning organization the Demand Progress Educational Fund. “They need to keep ‘showing their work’ by opening Cabinet meetings, disclosing information, and using political capital to emphasize that being ‘open by default’ isn't just an option but an obligation across the government.”
The Bookings Institution recently released a 70-page ethics report that, among other things, notes that “the Biden administration faces the daunting task of repairing breaches in mechanisms designed to provide transparency and taking affirmative steps to fulfill the promise of open government in statutes like the Freedom of Information Act. … The new president must embrace transparency as a core value and reinforce that message with concrete actions. These include proactively releasing high-value information, revising classification policies and procedures to counter the problem of over-classification, and improving the quality and usability of data.”
White House spokesperson Mike Gwin told Politico that “President Biden committed during the campaign to restoring ethics and transparency to government, and in his first weeks in office he’s taken significant steps to deliver on that, including by reinstating the daily press briefing, putting in place sweeping ethics guidelines for the administration, and pledging to regularly release visitor logs again.”
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