Commentary: Small steps toward government transparency

Government openness has always been a mixed bag, and President Barack Obama's promises of more transparency apparently have resulted in incremental rather than sweeping change.

For example, dozens of documents are online about the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But it's not nearly enough. Bloomberg, parent of Bloomberg News, is suing the Federal Reserve Board, and Judicial Watch has sued the Treasury Department, in separate efforts to force release of TARP details they sought through the Freedom of Information Act.

On his first full day in office, Obama signed a series of memoranda to reverse a Bush administration inclination toward withholding records. But the administration "has not conquered the challenge of communicating and enforcing that message throughout the Executive Branch," according to a new report from the National Security Archive, a private open-government project at George Washington University.

Each year, the archive analyzes federal agencies' compliance with FOIA by -- what else? -- asking for records about requests received and processed.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.star-telegram.com.