PRESS RELEASE from THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
January 21, 2009
STATEMENT FROM THE
The President today
signed two Executive Orders and three Presidential Memoranda.
These five documents represent a bold first step to fulfill his
campaign promises to make government more responsible and accountable,
to launch sweeping ethics reform, and to begin a new era of transparent
and open government.
Across the country,
families are tightening their belts in this economic crisis, and so
should Washington. That is why in the Presidential Memorandum Regarding Pay
Freeze the President has announced that he will freeze his
White House senior staff pay at current levels to the full extent
allowed by law. This will enable the White House to stretch its
budget to get more done for the country. The President and his
staff recognize that in these austere times, everyone must do more with
less, and the White House is no exception.
The American people
also deserve more than simply an assurance that those coming to
Washington will serve their interests. They deserve to know that there
are rules on the books to keep it that way. In the Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by
Executive Branch Personnel, the President, first, prohibits
executive branch employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists.
Second, he closes the revolving door that allows government officials
to move to and from private sector jobs in ways that give that sector
undue influence over government. Third, he requires that
government hiring be based upon qualifications, competence and
experience, not political connections. He has ordered every one
of his appointees to sign a pledge abiding by these tough new rules as
a downpayment on the change he has promised to bring to Washington.
In the Presidential Memorandum on Transparency
and Open Government, and the Presidential Memorandum on the Freedom of
Information Act, the President instructs all members of his
administration to operate under principles of openness, transparency
and of engaging citizens with their government. To implement
these principles and make them concrete, the Memorandum on Transparency
instructs three senior officials to produce an Open Government
Directive within 120 days directing specific actions to implement the
principles in the Memorandum. And the Memorandum on FOIA
instructs the Attorney General to in that same time period issue new
guidelines to the government implementing those same principles of
openness and transparency in the FOIA context.
Finally, the Executive Order on Presidential Records brings
those principles to presidential records by giving the American people
greater access to these historic documents. This order ends the
practice of having others besides the President assert executive
privilege for records after an administration ends. Now, only the
President will have that power, limiting its potential for abuse.
And the order also requires the Attorney General and the White House
Counsel to review claims of executive privilege about covered records
to make sure those claims are fully warranted by the Constitution.