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Amid Trump’s “veil of secrecy,” government watchdogs are more popular than ever

Amid Trump’s “veil of secrecy,” government watchdogs are more popular than ever
[Photo: Nik MacMillan/Unsplash]

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump and his administration have often been criticized for their efforts to obscure the work of government.

“Veil of secrecy,” “information darkness,” and “eclipse of sunlight” are just some of the terms used by good government groups to emphasize the lack of transparency in the current administration.

Citing the administration’s refusal to publish the White House visitor logs, removal of data from the FBI’s annual crime report, the Environmental Protection Agency’s deletion of information about climate change on its site, and many other troubling steps, USA Today opined last spring:

Too often, the president and his appointees seem to forget that they work for the people, that government information is gathered at taxpayer expense, and that one of the hallmarks of a democracy is free and open access to government activities.

But there has been a ray of sunshine, demonstrating that many civil servants continue to believe in making it easier for the public to see how its tax dollars are being spent. Exactly a year ago, www.oversight.gov was launched, an easy-to-use site that collected all the reports issued by inspectors general for 70 U.S. agencies, from the Pentagon and the Justice Department to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Peace Corps. Those are the audits conducted across the government, exposing fraud and mismanagement, and identifying $27.13 billion in potential savings in fiscal year 2018.

Previously, those reports were only available on obscure parts of each agency’s website, and very few people actually read the reports. Since the launch of oversight.gov, which contains almost 10,000 such reports, traffic has skyrocketed. And extremely secretive agencies like the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office recently issued their first-ever public reports, available on the site.

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