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Groups Release Report on Government’s “Ten Most Wanted” Documents

For Immediate release
March 20, 2009

Washington, D.C. — The Center for Democracy & Technology and today released Show Us The Data: The Most Wanted Government Documents, a joint report based on an interactive, user-driven search to identify the most sought after unclassified government documents and information.

The project has been timed to help inform changes in open government polices now underway at the federal level. Beyond identifying the wanted government documents and information, the report includes policy recommendations for making government more transparent.

"The public’s response was tremendous," said Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy & Technology. "Users identified an impressive and thoughtful range of government information that they need or want access to," Schwartz said. "That type of grassroots hunger for government information speaks volumes about the need for greater government openness and updated internal policies for making government information easily accessible."

The report provides background on each of the "Ten Most Wanted" documents or databases and provides insight into the institutional challenges and barriers that keep public access laws from being fully implemented. The report also notes that significant loopholes in these public access laws have eroded the public’s access to and faith in government information.

"The public is speaking loudly and clearly; they want all branches of our federal government to make the information they hold in trust for us available, accessible, findable, and usable," said Patrice McDermott, director of "We encourage the public to stay engaged and help us make sure these changes happen."

And there are success stories. "The report identifies government Web sites that are taking the right steps toward making government information easily accessible," Schwartz said. "And we identify Web sites the Obama Administration has created that give us reason to be optimistic about a new era of government openness and transparency."

The report outlines the following as the "Ten Most Wanted":

1. All Congressional Research Service Reports
2. Information about the use of TARP and bailout funds
3. Open and accessible federal court documents through the PACER system
4. Current federal contractor projects
5. Court settlements involving federal agencies
6. Access to comprehensive information about legislation and congressional actions via THOMAS or public access to Legislative Information Service
7. Online access to electronic campaign disclosures
8. Daily schedules of the president and cabinet officials
9. Personal financial disclosures from policymakers across government
10. State Medicaid plans and waivers.

The work on this project will update and expand previous reports published by OMB Watch, the Center for Democracy & Technology, and