The Obama-Biden Transition Project took a major step to increase transparency Friday, announcing that most policy documents from meetings with outside groups will be posted on the Web site Change.gov for review and comment.
The new policy also invites the public to submit their own ideas and leave comments for the transition team.
According to a memo from project co-chair John Podesta, the transition team will publish "all policy documents and written policy recommendations from official meetings with outside organizations," as well as the date and names of the organizations attending those meetings. Podesta noted that the the policy is "a floor, not a ceiling," and strongly encouraged transition staff to post additional materials.
"Talking face-to-face with advocates and experts is a vital part of the Transition," Dan McSwain wrote on the Change.gov blog. "But in past transitions, meetings like these took place behind closed doors and lacked the public input and transparency we're working hard to provide."
The policy has some important caveats. It doesn't reach personnel or hiring decisions, and doesn't apply to "non-public and classified information acquired from the Agency Review Process and internal memorandum." Furthermore, a meeting is covered by the policy only if three or more outside participants attend. Nevertheless, the policy is an unprecedented move toward open government for an incoming administration, and we hope it reflects a strong commitment to transparency from Obama's team.
You can read the Electronic Frontier Foundation's transparency agenda for the next president and Congress here. We've also joined a coalition of more than 25 organizations to offer transition recommendations on a vast range of other civil liberties issues.