The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Voting Info Group Launches Campaign for Open Govt

by Brendan Coyne

Nov. 22, 2005 – Citing growing difficulty in ascertaining what government officials are really up to, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter-resource organization launched a campaign to educate voters about government secrecy yesterday.

Undertaken by the League of Women Voters, a project called Openness in Government: Looking for the Sunshine will officially lay the groundwork for next year’s "Sunshine Week 2006," the organization said in a statement. The campaign will "broaden public awareness about the issues involved in, and the threats related to, accountability and transparency in government" through educational resources and community forums, among other measures.

"The government is becoming less open and more secretive in the name of homeland security at a time when many feel that greater accountability is needed," League of Women Voters Presidnet Kay J. Maxwell said. "Openness in Government will bring to light these concerns and allow citizens to discuss this important topic."

Claims of excessive government secrecy have been growing in recent years. According to a study conducted by a coalition of civil liberties and open government groups and published on the website, the federal government spent a record amount of money classifying information last year.

In addition, several executive-branch agencies are denying and stalling Freedom of Information Act requests, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government found in a review of 2004 requests.

Since 2002, open-government advocate OMB Watch has maintained a running list of information removed from government websites. The organization contends that federal agencies ranging from the Defense Department and NASA to the Environmental Protection Agency and National Archives and Record Administration have removed thousands of maps and documents from websites and have restricted access to parts of the sites that were previously available to the public.

Humanitarian, civil-liberties, public-interest and other groups have joined in charges that the federal government has grown too secretive in recent years.

The second annual "Sunshine Week" is scheduled to take place from March 12-18 next year.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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