About the SGI Blog
It’s part tanning bed, part soapbox, part forum. However you describe it, the new blog of the Sunshine in Government Initiative tracks transparency in action. When a story breaks, how do open government laws keep you informed? When do they fall short? And what can you do to make them work better?
Transparency’s problems and opportunities can be turgid stuff. Three-letter acronyms. A White House pushes agencies to be more transparent. FOIA is still mired in nightmares and little change. It’s no wonder journalists shy away from these stories.
But we want to make transparency easier to report on. FOIA can have a profound disinfecting power, as Louis Brandeis famously noted.
We hope to help reporters, editors, publishers, and all those who keep the public informed in telling the story of how the public uses FOIA and other transparency laws to get the story. When government officials or the laws themselves fall short, we will help tell that story as well.
Each of us has a stake in whether the government consistently gives us information when requested in a timely, useful manner. And can we rely on transparency to work even when it causes embarrassment or reveals wrongdoing.
In the Sunshine in Government Blog, we’ve already discussed which law prohibits disclosure of the ingredients in the controversial oil dispersant used in the Gulf and urged greater transparency. Now, the company that makes the dispersant has waived its trade secret claims and published a detailed ingredients list. We discuss what Congress did to quietly allow the USDA to stop identifying individual recipients of taxpayer money, and identified ways the government could be more transparent in its response to the Gulf oil spill.
In short, transparency matters. And it’s a story worth telling.