Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Posts in category Secrecy

Bringing Government Secrets to Li...

Bringing Government Secrets to Light

It was late February 1970, and the federal government was concerned that bad things were afoot in New York City. The past decade had been a series of headaches for the feds—civil rights protests; bombings by the Weather Underground and other radicals; riots in slums, on college campuses, and at the 1968 Democratic Convention in […]

Outsourcing Oversight through Open Government D...

Outsourcing Oversight through Open Government Data

Congress has a big problem when it comes to oversight. The federal government has grown vastly larger over the past century, but Congress has done little to empower itself to keep track. However, thanks to open data, those outside the government now can lend a helping hand. The U.S. Constitution set up a principle-agent relationship […]

Where Taxpayers Pay ($100 Million a Year) But Interest Groups Bene...

Where Taxpayers Pay ($100 Million a Year) But Interest Groups Benefit

It seemed like a silly question, but as the new guy, I was obliged to ask: “Can I e-mail a copy of my report to my mother?” Mom had been a local reporter when I was a kid and worked for a county government in Ohio. She has always had a bottomless appetite for politics […]

GAO Opens Up About Secret Repo...

GAO Opens Up About Secret Reports

Most of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s reports are freely available to the public via GAO.gov. For decades, however, the agency has kept a minority of these reports secret. These so-called “restricted reports” are withheld from the public, according to the GAO, because they contain “either classified information or controlled unclassified information by the audited […]

The Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2...

The Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2010

The website for the Society for History In the Federal Government carries my short write-up of the Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2010. President Barack H. Obama signed the Reducing Over-Classification Act on October 7, 2010 (P.L. 111-258).  The law creates new policies to discourage over-classification by federal agencies, particularly the Department of Homeland Security and […]

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