Obama's Transparency Pledge

transparent-white-houseBrightScope believes that a healthy dose of transparency can do a world of good for the 401k market.  As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  With complete information on fees and service provider conflicts of interest, plan sponsors and participants can make more informed decisions.

Fortunately for believers in transparency the new Obama administration appears to be on the same page.  Obama has made transparency one of his administration’s major themes.  It is telling that in his first day in office the President signed two memorandums relating to transparency and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

In the Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, and the Presidential Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act, the President instructs all members of his administration to operate under principles of openness, transparency and of engaging citizens with their government. To implement these principles and make them concrete, the Memorandum on Transparency instructs three senior officials to produce an Open Government Directive within 120 days directing specific actions to implement the principles in the Memorandum. And the Memorandum on FOIA instructs the Attorney General to in that same time period issue new guidelines to the government implementing those same principles of openness and transparency in the FOIA context.

I applaud the Obama administration in taking these steps so quickly after the inauguration.   BrightScope is in the process of drafting a comment letter to the Attorney General with ideas and thoughts about how to make FOIA more effective.  Only time will tell if Obama makes good on his transparency pledge, though we are certainly encouraged by his initial steps.