RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Here in Washington, D.C. some people are calling this sunshine week. It's the time of year when government watchdog groups evaluate the administration's commitment to openness. Two years ago, President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on how that's going.
CARRIE JOHNSON: Reset, hut.
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JOHNSON: Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli talked to an audience filled with federal workers. He says there's a simple reason why public access to information matters.
TOM PERRELLI: You've often heard it said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And the recognition is that, for us to do better it's critically important for the public to know what we're doing.
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: Expectations were raised so high at the beginning of the administration that some disappointment was almost inevitable.
JOHNSON: That's Steven Aftergood. He directs the project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood says the Obama administration has made some huge breakthroughs, such as sharing the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal for the first time.
AFTERGOOD: On the other hand, though, we still have continuing backlogs. We have obstruction. We have a lack of cooperation or commitment or even implementation of explicit instructions from the president.
JOHNSON: A spokesman for HUD says the federal government was only trying to get the best information and protect trade secrets of companies involved in the talks. The inspector general says the practice didn't seem to violate the law, because the administration was looking for input not formal guidance. But Aftergood, who studies government secrecy, has some qualms about the practice.
AFTERGOOD: When you shut the doors and you allow some outsiders in but not others, you inevitably skew the process. So it's not good government, it's not good policy and it just seems like a mistake.
JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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