President Obama Signs Executive Order Widening Government Transparency

November 4, 2010 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – President Obama signed an Executive Order today that will help improve government transparency by standardizing and limiting the use of control markings, document designations designed to limit disclosure of unclassified information within the government to the public and Congress. The Executive Order also rescinds a 2008 Bush administration memorandum that created a framework for limiting dissemination of government documents and information by labeling them as “controlled unclassified information” (CUI).
Today’s Executive Order mandates that government documents can only be labeled CUI if dissemination restrictions are required by law, regulation or government-wide policy, rather than by individual executive agency policy, which has allowed varied, inconsistent and inappropriate use of control markings. The Order also clarifies that control markings cannot influence agency decisions to release information under the Freedom of Information Act or other discretionary releases, nor can they be used to impede the flow of information to Congress or the judiciary.
The American Civil Liberties Union worked closely with the administration on the Executive Order guidelines and lauded President Obama for signing it today.

The following can be attributed to Michael German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI Agent:

“We are very pleased that the Obama administration took the opportunity to reform a confusing and inconsistent system that unnecessarily prevented information from being shared with the public and within the government. The public’s access to information should face as few hurdles as possible. Limiting public access to unclassified information impacts all Americans because it strikes at the very heart of an open and vibrant democracy.
“This Executive Order is a welcome step toward ensuring that our government agencies can no longer withhold information without oversight. Creating clear and public standards about the process that our government uses to deny information from its citizens is crucial to an open government.”

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