On his first full day in office, President Obama sent a strong policy statement promoting improved government transparency by issuing memoranda to executive department heads and agency chiefs concerning a renewed focus on the Freedom of Information Act and open government. The commitment came as welcome news to whistleblowers and their advocates who felt that the Bush administration’s policies did more to discourage than to prompt federal workers and contractors to disclose known problems and hidden scams that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

Obama has been encouraged by the Right to Know Community to create a Window on Government Award to acknowledge agencies and employees who succeed in creating governmental transparency. Another group that seeks to promote whistleblower rights – the Make It Safe Coalition – has suggested that the Obama administration should contemplate rehiring whistleblowers who were dismissed under the Bush administration simply because they sought to expose wrongdoing and graft in their departments. The group has also called upon the president to denounce retaliation against whistleblowers who exercise their duty to report witnessed fraud, abuse or waste.
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