Barack Obama took office on a pledge to create "an unprecedented level of openness in government." Given the size of the federal government, its tendency to classify as top secret even the most innocuous documents and its long-standing culture of bureaucratic tail-covering, that's not a very high bar, but Obama hasn't cleared it yet.

Barack Obama took office on a pledge to create "an unprecedented level of openness in government." Given the size of the federal government, its tendency to classify as top secret even the most innocuous documents and its long-standing culture of bureaucratic tail-covering, that's not a very high bar, but Obama hasn't cleared it yet.

Obama has made some progress. For the first time, the White House visitor logs are public. Through his Open Government Directive issued in December, Obama has ordered federal agencies to put thousands of documents and reams of data online.

But Obama's record on national security is mixed. He released reports detailing the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, but refused to release photos. Administration lawyers have reiterated "state secret" defenses made in civil cases by their Bush administration predecessors.

Our biggest disappointment, though, is with the administration's response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Soon after taking office, Obama made a big deal of overturning an order by President George W. Bush encouraging agencies to resist such requests. The presumption should be for openness, Obama said.

But an Associated Press analysis, done in conjunction with Sunshine Week, indicates agencies haven't gotten the message. In the budget year that ended last October, agencies cited exemptions from providing requested information 466,872 times. That is well over the 312,683 exemptions cited by agencies during the previous year.

If Obama means what he says about openness, he's got to show better results than that. People are keeping score.

The MetroWest Daily News