In September, the President announced that – for the first time in history – the White House would release visitor records. Today’s posting brings the grand total of records that this White House has released well over a 150,000 record milestone. You can view them all in our Disclosures section. These releases have provided the public an unprecedented look into the activities of the White House.
Today’s release is just one example of the many efforts that were recognized by a consortium of independent outside government reform groups that gave the Administration an A for its first-year actions making government open and transparent—and these actions have also been praised by other outside experts. This Administration’s concrete commitments to openness include issuing the Open Government Directive, putting up more government information than ever before on data.gov and recovery.gov, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries, issuing an executive order to fight unnecessary secrecy and speed declassification, reversing an executive order that previously limited access to presidential records, and webcasting White House meetings and conferences.
Like previous months, today’s release includes visitor information for the Vice President and his staff at the White House Complex, the names and dates of visitors to the Vice President’s Residence for the official events between November 1 and November 30, and the visitors to the Residence who appear on the daily schedules of the Vice President and Dr. Biden.
Also, as we have previously noted, sometimes rather than providing clear information, transparency can have confusing or amusing results. Given the significant number of visitors to the White House, many visitors share the same name as a notable figure. For example, John Adams is included in today’s release. Obviously, the well-known individual with that name did not visit the White House, but we have included the records of the individuals that did.
Norm Eisen is Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform