Open House

It’s taken me awhile, but I finally made it to the White House blog, which has been up and running since President Obama’s inauguration. For those interested in paying attention to what is going on in the White House, the blog, which is updated several times daily and includes a wide range of contributors, is an invaluable source of materials and information. In addition to entries tied to press releases coming from the President or members of his Administration, the blog includes transcripts and videos of press conferences, public speeches, town hall meetings, and the President’s weekly radio address, along with lots and lots of pictures. When the President makes a major announcement, as with last week’s commitment to cut $17 billion in federal spending as part of the FY’10 budget, the blog provides a space for the Administration to lay out its case and guide the public to more detailed information.

Perhaps most welcome and unexpected are summaries of meetings that the Administration holds with interest groups on various subjects. For example, on May 7th, the President’s Special Advisor for ethics and government reform, posted an entry reporting on two meetings the White House had held the day before with advocates for government transparency and from the Chamber of Commerce concerning rules the Administration is developing regarding lobbying on stimulus projects, complete with a list of those in attendance. The same day, Jared Bernstein, the Vice-President’s Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor, provided a report on a meeting he held in late April with representatives of labor organizations concerned about transportation funding in the stimulus bill. Again, the blog provided a list of meeting attendees.

Clearly, the blog is an instrument in the Administration’s efforts to prove the sincerity of its commitment to government transparency, particularly as it relates to the stimulus bill. We should assume that the Administration will still get to decide which private meetings it chooses to blog about and which it doesn’t. Still, with more Americans than ever both interested in and able to access what our political leaders are doing, this is a refreshing and timely step in the direction of  open government.


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

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