Report Card Shows No Slackening of Secrecy Trend

September 10, 2008

The sharp trend toward greater government secrecy across-the-board has not slowed in the latter years of the Bush administration, a new report shows.

The fifth annual report card produced by OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of over 70 open government advocacy groups, offers hard numbers from a range of indicators. The conclusion: "Government secrecy increased across a wide spectrum of indicators in 2007."

Some of the key findings:

  • "Almost 22 million FOIA requests were received, an increase of nearly 2 percent over last year
  • The 25 departments and agencies that handle the bulk of FOIA requests failed to make a dent in their backlogs, although they received the fewest requests since reporting began in 1998
  • The number of original classification decisions increased slightly after dropping two consecutive years, and the number of derivative classifications increased by almost 13 percent
  • The government spent $195 maintaining the secrets already on the books for every one dollar the government spent declassifying documents, a 5 percent increase in one year
  • 18 percent of the requested Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition funding is for classified, or "black," programs. Classified acquisition funding has more than doubled in real terms since FY 1995.
  • $114.1 billion of federal contract funding was given out without any competition. On average since 2000, fully and openly competed contracts have dropped by almost 25 percent
  • Federal surveillance activity under the jurisdiction of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has risen for the 9th consecutive year — more than double the amount in 2000."

"2008 Secrecy Report Card," OpenTheGovernment.org, September 9, 2008. Press release. Full report.