The Center for Media and Democracy joined a coalition of 43 civil society and government reform groups in a letter delivered to the White House today calling on President Biden to make transparency a top priority in order to restore public confidence in government.
Led by the American Civil Liberties Union and Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the letter asks Biden to:
- Issue an executive order or presidential memo affirming government transparency as a pillar of democracy and the responsibility of all federal agency heads and employees.
- Direct agencies to update their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines, prioritize the public interest in disclosure, and proactively disclose information instead of placing the burden on journalists and others to file FOIA requests.
- Direct the Attorney General to issue new FOIA guidance and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to play a greater role in ensuring FOIA implementation.
- Ensure that key records from the Trump administration are not destroyed and are made public to the fullest extent possible.
- Champion more funding for and legislative improvements to government records disclosure and preservation laws.
- Reform the way government information is classified and declassify key records in a number of areas.
“The right to know what our government is up to is also one of the most fundamental checks and balances in our system of government—one that depends on the preservation of relevant information and public access to it,” the letter states. “As our country’s history has shown us time and time again, when government secrecy proliferates, so do civil liberties violations and obstacles to democratic accountability.”
The full letter text and list of signatories is embedded below.