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The Next President on Open Government

We’re all fed up with lengths to which the Bush Administration has gone to hide its business from public scrutiny.  But how open will our next president be?  Our coalition, the Sunshine Week alliance, asked all the presidential candidates to complete a survey in last October about their positions on open government and freedom of information issues. 

Of the remaining three candidates, only Sen. Hillary Clinton responded (read her answers here [pdf]).  To get the other candidates’ positions, a team of researchers poured over articles, speeches and debate transcripts, and any other records they could find.

Below are brief overviews — read the complete findings here.

Hillary Clinton:

[Her] open government proposals are: ending no-bid government contracts and posting all federal contracts online, publishing the budgets of every government agency, bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment to safeguard scientific integrity, and putting more government services online. Clinton also calls for stronger protection for government whistleblowers.

John McCain:

Regarding earmarks, [McCain’s] site says, "As President, John McCain would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse, use the power of the presidency to restore fiscal responsibility, and exercise the veto pen to enforce it."

Barack Obama:

Among the proposals in Obama’s plan to open government are: putting government data online in accessible formats; airing live webcasts of agency meetings; restoring scientific integrity; allowing people to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks and lobbyist contacts online; and allowing five days for public to review and comment on legislation online before its signed.