America

White House Wins Open-Government Award; Keeps It Secret

A view into the Oval Office, at the end of last summer. President Obama (very) quietly accepted an award Monday for his efforts to make government more transparent. i i

A view into the Oval Office, at the end of last summer. President Obama (very) quietly accepted an award Monday for his efforts to make government more transparent. Pool Photo/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Pool Photo/Getty Images
A view into the Oval Office, at the end of last summer. President Obama (very) quietly accepted an award Monday for his efforts to make government more transparent.

A view into the Oval Office, at the end of last summer. President Obama (very) quietly accepted an award Monday for his efforts to make government more transparent.

Pool Photo/Getty Images

President Obama was presented with an award for his efforts to make government more transparent Monday. If it seems a bit late to report that news on a Thursday, it is — but the award was kept secret for much of this week.

The award was presented "behind closed doors with no media coverage or public access allowed," the AP reports. The meeting was also reportedly not on the president's official schedule.

In the past, Obama has promised to be more open with information than his predecessor. And his administration has taken steps that were welcomed by open-government advocates, like releasing White House visitor logs.

But the current flap — which is admittedly a small one in the grand scheme of things — has ruffled some feathers. And over at Politico, Abby Phillip notes that the White House's first attempt to accept the award — at an event that was cancelled at the last minute — sparked a brief spat between White House press secretary Jay Carney and FOX News' Wendell Goler.

For the record, here's the list of (known) people who presented Obama with the award:

Gary Bass - OMB Watch

Tom Blanton - National Security Archive

Danielle Brian - Project on Government Oversight

Lucy Dalglish - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Patrice McDermott - OpenTheGovernment.org

A White House spokesman told the AP that it was simply a matter of the president being too busy to accept the award in a public event.

Gary Bass of OMB Watch told the AP that keeping the event secret is absurd, and "the height of irony."

Still, Bass and other attendees told the AP that at the meeting, Obama assured them he would continue to advocate for more transparency in government.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.