Remember Barack Obama’s pledge to make this the Most Transparent Administration Evah? Josh Gerstein at Politico notices a few items that seem to have slipped by the national media, thanks to a lack of openness on the part of Obama’s communications team. Obama issued three executive orders and a handful of regulations without ever announcing them:
In his first weeks in office, President Barack Obama shut down his predecessor’s system for reviewing regulations, realigned and expanded two key White House policymaking bodies and extended economic sanctions against parties to the conflict in the African nation of Cote D’Ivoire.
Despite the intense scrutiny a president gets just after the inauguration, Obama managed to take all these actions with nary a mention from the White House press corps.
The moves escaped notice because they were never announced by the White House Press Office and were never placed on the White House web site.
They came to light only because the official paperwork was transmitted to the Federal Register, a dense daily compendium of regulatory actions and other formal notices prepared by the National Archives. They were published there several days after the fact.
What got missed? One executive order expanded the National Economic Council to 25 members, and the additions are certainly intriguing. Obama appointed the open HHS Secretary to the NEC, as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Two other appointments should have provoked some controversy: “climate czar” Carol Browner and adviser Valerie Jarrett, last mentioned in the Blagojevich scandal. Adding a “climate czar” to an economic council sends the signal that Obama takes the global-warming issue a lot more seriously than he does the economy — which is probably why the White House buried that EO.
Another EO halted review of regulations in federal agencies, pending the installation of a new review process. That seems less controversial, as most administrations have their own regulatory procedures. However, since the EO stopped review altogether, transparency would have called for disclosure of that fact and of the EO itself.
Most Transparent Administration Evah? More like the same old, same old.