21st Century Government Latest News
- Posted byon September 16, 2011 at 2:00 PM EDT
President Obama has made open government a high priority. Greater openness renders our government more efficient and effective. It strengthens our democracy. It improves our citizens’ lives.
To these ends, the Administration has taken many substantial steps to promote increased participation and collaboration in government, and to make government more transparent. For example, federal agencies have increased transparency through redoubled efforts to disclose more information under the Freedom of Information Act. They have implemented ambitious Open Government Plans, and made voluminous data newly available to the public. The Administration has also made spending information more transparent, and taken steps to disclose previously sensitive government information.
Of course, creating a more open government requires sustained effort. How best to harness new technologies in the service of open government, to strike the proper balance between transparency and the protection of national security and personal privacy, to change agency culture so that openness becomes the new normal–such issues require long-term commitment.
- Posted byon August 26, 2011 at 3:56 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that – for the first time in history – White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in May 2011. Today’s release also includes several visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in July 2011 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the grand total of records that this White House has released to over 1.6 million records. You can view them all in our Disclosures section.
Ed. Note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
- Posted byon August 26, 2011 at 2:42 PM EDT
Lately, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information about the Obama Administration's record on regulations. I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up the facts, particularly in view of a letter sent by Speaker Boehner to the President today.
President Obama believes that, as our economy recovers and we work to support job creation, it is important to minimize regulatory burdens and avoid unjustified regulatory costs. The President has taken ambitious and strong steps to promote this goal.
Executive Order 13563, issued early this year, calls on all agencies to conduct a thorough retrospective review of existing rules; it also imposes a series of new requirements designed to reduce regulatory burdens and costs. Just this month, twenty-six agencies released regulatory review plans, with over 500 reform initiatives. A mere fraction of the new initiatives will save more than $10 billion over the next five years; as progress continues, we expect to be able to deliver savings far in excess of that figure. Already, we’ve finalized or formally proposed reforms to save more than $4 billion of regulatory costs over that period.
It is important to note that there has been no significant increase in rulemaking under this Administration. On the contrary, the number of significant rules reviewed by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and issued in the first two years of the Obama administration is lower than the number issued in the last two years of the Bush administration. Moreover, in its last two years, the administration of George W. Bush imposed far higher regulatory costs than did the Obama administration in its first two years.
Even more importantly, the net benefits of the final, economically significant regulations reviewed by OIRA in the first two years of the Obama Administration, including not only monetary savings but also lives saved and illnesses prevented, have been over ten times the net benefits during the first two years of the Bush Administration. Smart regulations produce significant benefits in the form of savings for businesses, clean air and water, workplace safety, safe food and consumer and investor protection.
It is important to clarify that the annual regulatory agenda, sometimes cited as evidence of an increase in regulatory burden, is simply a list of potential ideas that agencies may consider pursuing. Under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, the agenda is merely a list of rules that are under general contemplation, provided to the public in order to promote transparency. Before any such rule can be issued, it must be subject to a long series of internal and external constraints, including the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the new burden-reducing, cost-saving requirements of the President's January Executive Order on regulation. In any given year, many rules on the agenda do not become final.
The President has said that our regulatory system must "protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and job creation.” We look forward to working closely with the public to achieve that goal.
- Posted byon August 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM EDT
In January of this year, the President emphasized that our regulatory system “must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.” With this point in mind, he ordered an unprecedentedly ambitious government-wide review of existing federal regulations. He directed agencies and departments to produce plans to eliminate red tape and to streamline current requirements.
Today, we are announcing that agencies are releasing their final regulatory reform plans, including hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency.
As the plans demonstrate, a great deal has been achieved in a short time. Significant burden-reducing rules have been finalized or publicly proposed from the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation. These rules are expected to save more than $4 billion over the next five years.
- Posted byon August 22, 2011 at 5:27 PM EDT
The Open Government Plan of the United States will be formally launched in September on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. As we continue our work on the plan, we want to thank you for your help and participation. Last week, on this blog, we posed several questions asking for your ideas about how we can focus open government efforts on improving public services and increasing public integrity. We are grateful for the helpful responses we have received, and we will be publishing all responsive submissions online in the next few weeks.
In response to our inquiries, some people have asked for additional information about the Open Government Partnership and the Open Government Plan, and on how they fit into the Administration’s domestic Open Government Initiative. We provide some more detail here.
The White House’s Open Government Initiative is a domestic effort, launched on the President’s first full day in office, to work toward an “unprecedented level of openness in government.” Over the past two years, responding to the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, Federal agencies have done a great deal to make information about how government works more accessible to the public, to solicit citizens’ participation in government decision-making, and to collaborate with all sectors of the economy on new and innovative solutions.
- Posted byon August 18, 2011 at 6:33 PM EDT
Ed note: The information on this graphic was updated on March 13, 2012
Creating a judicial pool for the 21st Century, one with intellect, fair-mindedness and integrity that resembles the nation that it serves, is a top priority for President Obama and his administration. In fact, the President’s nominations for federal judges embody an unprecedented commitment to expanding the racial, gender and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice.
Unfortunately, the delays these nominees are encountering on Capitol Hill are equally unprecedented: earlier this month, the Senate left for its August recess without considering 20 eminently qualified candidates, 16 of whom had passed through the bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee completely unopposed, a development the Washington Post called “not only frustrating but also destructive” in an editorial published yesterday.
The victims of these delays, of course, are the American citizens who are being denied the fair and timely judicial proceedings they deserve because of the chronic shortage of federal judges on the bench. Stephen Zack, president of the American Bar Association, told Senate leaders in a recent letter that the abundance of vacant federal judgeships “create strains that will inevitably reduce the quality of our justice system and erode public confidence in the ability of the courts to vindicate constitutional rights or render fair and timely decisions.”
To better understand how the Senate delays are impacting American families and businesses, take a look at our infographic that explains the confirmation process and highlights the bottleneck.