Magazine article Information Management

U.S. Government Secrecy on the Rise

Magazine article Information Management

U.S. Government Secrecy on the Rise

Article excerpt

Government secrecy expanded again last year despite growing public concern, according to a report released by a coalition of open government advocates.

The Secrecy Report Card, produced annually by Open TheGovernment.org to identify trends in public access to information, found a lack of transparency in military procurement, assertions of executive privilege, and expansion of "sensitive" categories of information, among other areas.

According to the report, in 2006, the public's use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) continued to rise. However, agency backlogs are significant; the oldest FOIA request in the federal government has now been pending for more than 20 years.

The report cites many indicators of growing secrecy, including:

* Since 2001, the "state secrets" privilege (the executive branch power to impose secrecy with little opportunity for appeal or judicial review) has been used a reported 39 times--an average of six times per year in 6.5 years, more than double the average (2.46) during the previous 24 years.

* In 2006, 26 percent of federal contracts dollars ($107.5 billion) were not competitively bid; only one-third of contract dollars are subject to full and open competition. …

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