Five Attacks on Obama’s Transparency Record During Sunshine Week

Proponents of government transparency are unimpressed with the Obama administration

This year’s Sunshine Week festivities were no party for the Obama administration. During the annual celebration of government transparency, several watchdog groups and investigative journalists released reports dinging the Obama administration for its failure to live up to its lofty standards.

1. More secrecy than ever

Barack Obama


The Associated Press reported that the Obama administration was censoring or denying access to documents more than ever. "The government's own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records," the AP reported. "In category after category—except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees—the government's efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office."

2. More White House meddling



The watchdog group Cause of Action released a study finding that the Obama White House’s expanded review of FOIA requests significantly delayed responses to journalists, watchdog groups, and even congressional investigations.

3. Agencies fail to follow FOIA law

Eric Holder / AP

Eric Holder / AP

An audit by the National Security Archive found nearly half of all federal agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since Obama took office, despite pledges by the president and Attorney General Eric Holder to modernize and improve government transparency efforts.

4. Big fat F



The Center for Effective Government released a graded report on how well 15 federal agencies administered the FOIA. Half of them failed.

5. Repeat performance for the EPA

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, EPA, Coal

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy / AP

The Society of Environmental Journalists criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to respond to public records requests. Not much has changed since last year, when the group called the EPA "one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press."