At the stroke of midnight on January 21, 2009. five "Presidential Actions" went into force (see White House press statement), establishing a clear foundation of organizing values and principles for the new Obama Administration. The "Midnight Five," with their links, are:
The capstone action is the one we list first, the memo on "Transparency and Open Government," a remarkable document that lays out the fundamental reason we need openness and how to achieve it. This understanding of the central role of transparency is vital at this extraordinarily critical moment in the still-accelerating economic crisis. Transparency is both necessary and beneficial. To paraphrase Judge Brandeis again, things get better with sunlight.
The president doesn't mince words in his preamble to the memo:
"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."
How are these open government benefits of efficiency, effectiveness, and a stronger democracy to be achieved? The memo outlines three imperatives ("shoulds"):
- Government should be transparent.
- Government should be participatory.
- Government should be collaborative.
Lest you think transparency and openness apply just to government, listen up all you leaders in organizations of every size in every sector who are feeling and dealing with desperate challenges. We can only get out of this mess by all of us being smarter and contributing to the overall solution.
We are posting the whole transparency memo after the break below, inserting in brackets words that indicate its applicability to all organizations, thus, the revised title and what follows. Please take a read and see if you might be able to endorse the same statement in your organization.
-- Jeff Stamps
Transparency and Open Governments [Organizations]
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.BARACK OBAMA
[Your name here]