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Throughout the campaign, President Obama made many promises to increase transparency and accountability in Washington.  And while some of his supporters cheerfully assign him good grades when evaluating his record in this area, a closer look reveals that in terms of fulfilling his transparency promises, his first year in office holds a mixed bag at best. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly. The Good: Steps towards more openness – Upon taking office, the Obama administration issued two memoranda, one instructing all agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests, and a second one directing the Office of Management and Budget to develop an Open Government Directive that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to implement greater transparency.   The Open Government Directive issued on December 8, 2009, indeed looks promising and reiterates the presumption of openness. The first part discusses general agency data, and the second part of the document focuses on improving the quality of government information and specifically focuses on the area of Federal spending information, setting a timeline for developing a longer-term comprehensive strategy for spending transparency.Among other things, agencies will be required to soon publish at least three high-value data sets and register them on Data.gov, an already-functional website created by the Obama administration for this purpose earlier in the year.That is a promising step in the right direction, although there is a caveat, which we have discussed here The Bad: Easy-to-keep promises are off to a slow start. During the campaign, President Obama made a “Sunlight Before Signing” promise: "When there's a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you, the American voter, will have five days to look online and find out what it is before I sign it, so that you know what your government's doing.” Still, while this is a promise that should be fairly easy to put into practice, the President’s record of compliance with this promise has been poor. As Jim Harper, who tracks the issue for the Cato Institute, pointed out on January 6, only six bills out of 124 were posted in accordance with the promise. When transparency becomes spin – Recovery.gov. Taxpayers were promised “unprecedented transparency” in conjunction with trillion dollar spending and debt package passed under the guise of “economic stimulus.” For that purpose, Recovery.gov was created. However, several months and $18 million later, the website offered little substance and much spin, while a website created by a private company, Onvia, was already tracking expenditures on its website Recovery.org. Things took a turn for the worse when recipient data was posted on Recovery.gov, because rather than presenting facts, the site now boasted job creation and retention numbers that were not only inflated and bogus, but also were also occurring in non-existent Congressional districts.  Clearly, this is not transparency, it is spin. The Ugly: Abandoning transparency when it’s no longer politically expedient – During the campaign, President Obama repeatedly promised that the healthcare negotiations would be conducted publicly.  Among his promises were this one: "That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process." Members of Congressional leadership have echoed this sentiment on numerous occasions and proclaimed their commitment to open and transparent negotiations on this important subjec. However, the more it became apparent that the public was not seeing the Democrats’ proposals as favorably as the President and other proponents had expected, the more secretive the process became.  At the beginning of this year, shortly before the apparent implosion of the healthcare process in the wake of the Massachusetts election, the President and Congressional leaders decided to embark on abbreviated behind-closed-doors negotiations, shutting out the American people.  The President clearly failed to insist on an open process, and transparency became a victim of political expediency