Need To Know Basis
June 30, 2008 Michele Donohue
Voters are tired of not getting complete answers from elected officials. And in a survey by OMB Watch, government transparency tops of the list of want voters want in this election cycle.
The survey garnered 2,132 responses with people choosing the top five questions they want answered by presidential and congressional hopefuls. The questions focused on government transparency problems and tried to indicate how open a candidate would be with information if voted into office.
“The topic of governmental transparency is seldom been thought of as a topic,” said Gary Bass, founder and executive director of OMB. “We talk about education, healthcare or poverty and within each of our own silos we care about governmental transparency.”
A structured advisory group consisting of nonprofit workers, professionals and journalists across all political leanings narrowed down a list of more than 30 questions down to 12 for the general public to pick from in an informal survey. Some 59 of responders wanted presidential candidates to address possible manipulation of facts and public information disclosure from the White House to government agencies.
“People are tired of platitudes and want specifics. It’s easy to say ‘I want an open government,’” said Bass. “I also think people are saying they are tired of corruption. We need to stop the special interest forces and level the playing field” with greater transparency, He said.
“Those of us in the nonprofits understand that money trumps ideas. Our strength in the sector comes from the voices of our people. When we play on a level playing field, we always win,” said Bass.
Understanding a candidate’s view on executive privilege and extending whistleblower protection rights to private sector employees tied for second place at 54 percent.
Questions about reversing Executive Order 13233, an act that allows former presidents to veto the release of their presidential records, and the dissemination of health, safety and environment information rounded out the top five.
Other questions included topics such as information disclosure on earmarks and corporate finances, secrecy abuse and improving governmental transparency. Of the 12 questions, detailed questions received more votes than general ones. Respondents were not asked to rank questions.
“This is a united appeal for answers,” said Bass. “When government is open, democracy thrives. With democracy thriving our quality of life improves.”
OMB Watch released the study as a part of its 21st Century Right to Know Project to provide the next presidential administration with recommendations on transparent government policies.
This article is from NPT Weekly, a publication of The NonProfit Times.
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