Obama has wielded the power of the White House to craft an executive order that limited lobbyist hires in his administration, push federal agencies to share more of their data with the public and begin releasing visitor records for the executive complex on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
....“After the last eight years, it is refreshing to see a president, through his rhetoric and action, who understands the way that the system works is a problem. That just a great place to start with,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center.
...Obama wins the most applause for putting senior aides in place whose primary job is better ethics and transparency in the federal government. The appointees include Norm Eisen, Obama’s Harvard Law School classmate and the administration’s ethics czar who is stationed in the White House Counsel’s office; Beth Noveck, the deputy chief technology officer who is leading the Open Government Initiative; and Vivek Kundra, the chief information officer.
“What I find most encouraging is that there is a core group of people at the White House who genuinely care about these issues,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at Federation of American Scientists. “There is now ‘someone to talk to’ at the White House in a way that there wasn’t before. And we are already starting to see some results from those conversations, such as the Open Government Directive, and other emerging policies.”
Eisen was the author of the tough executive order, signed by Obama on his first full day in office, designed to slow the revolving door between government and K Street. That order also bans ex-Obama administration officials from lobbying their former colleagues.
“The greatest surprise is just how extensively these revolving door restrictions apply,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “Obama has ushered in the first-ever policy addressing ‘reverse’ revolving door abuses: screening potential nominees to the federal government and managing conflicts of interest among appointees so as to prevent special interests from ‘capturing’ the agencies that regulate them.”...
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