News Release

Reason Foundation Praises President Obama’s Transparency Memorandum

Obama was one of a handful of presidential candidates to sign Oath of Transparency

Los Angeles (January 22, 2009) – On his first day in office President Barack Obama laid out his principles for transparency in the executive branch, a step towards keeping his campaign promise of leading the “most transparent and accountable administration in history.”

Back in August 2007, then-Sen. Obama became one of the first presidential candidates to sign the Oath of Presidential Transparency promoted by Reason Foundation and a diverse coalition of 35 other groups. The Oath of Transparency would require the executive branch to adhere to the concepts of ‘Google Government’ by making spending, earmarks and other documents available to taxpayers online. On Wednesday, Obama signed a memorandum on “Transparency and Open Government” that pledged “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”

“It was very promising to see President Obama show real commitment to transparency and accountability on his first day in office,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation. “Not many of his fellow candidates even signed the oath, so the President deserves real praise. Hopefully the Obama administration views this as just the first step in a process that makes the federal government more answerable to taxpayers. The bailout bills have clearly demonstrated that our system is plagued by secrecy, a lack of accountability and wasteful spending. President Obama would be wise to push for more transparency by calling on Congress to post any future spending bills online – before they are voted on. This would force members of Congress to own up to their pork requests and give taxpayers the chance to provide real-time feedback on plans to spend our hard-earned money. During the campaign, President Obama vowed to ‘post all bills brought to his desk online for five days before they are signed’ so he likely recognizes the value in asking Congress to do the same.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and the Libertarian Party’s Bob Barr were among the other candidates who signed the Oath of Presidential Transparency. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, were among those who did not.

Transparency Oath Online

The full study, The Oath of Presidential Transparency signed by then-Sen. Barack Obama and information about the diverse coalition of groups promoting the oath is online at

About Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets.


Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109