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Accession Number PB2013-100709
Title Government Transparency and Secrecy: An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch.
Publication Date Nov 2012
Media Count 39p
Personal Author L. E. Halchin M. P. Carey N. Keegan W. Ginsberg
Abstract From the beginnings of the American federal government, Congress has required executive branch agencies to release or otherwise make available government information and records. Some scholars and statesmen, including James Madison, thought access to information- commonly referred to in contemporary vernacular as 'transparency'-was an essential cornerstone of democratic governance. Today, the federal government attempts to balance access to information with the need to protect certain information (including national security information and trade secrets) in order to achieve transparency. As a consequence, access and protection are often in tension with one another. Congress has the authority to determine what information can and should be publicly available as well as what should be protected. Congressional powers that may be used to address federal transparency include the powers to legislate, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and control the federal budget. Statutes that grant access to government information include the Federal Register Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Among the laws enacted to protect information are the Privacy Act and FOIA. Agencies also use security classifications, which are governed largely by executive orders, to protect certain records from public release. Records may be protected for national security purposes, personal privacy concerns, or other reasons.
Keywords Democratic governance
Federal government
National security
Trade secrets

Source Agency Congressional Research Service
NTIS Subject Category 74 - Military Sciences
74I - Passive Defense Systems
Corporate Author Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1307
Contract Number N/A

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