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Federal CIO Council Named 'Worst' in Open Government

Hillary Clinton answers questions at a news conference at the United Nations, Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Hillary Clinton answers questions at a news conference at the United Nations, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. // Richard Drew/AP

The Federal Chief Information Officers Council is taking home this year's Rosemary Award for giving the "worst open government performance of 2014."

The “award” -- bequeathed each year by George Washington University research center, the National Security Archive -- is meant to “highlight the lowlights of government secrecy," the announcement said.

Winners were named during last week's celebration of Sunshine Week, a national effort to promote government transparency.

The Rosemary awards were named after Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who testified she accidentally erased 18.5 minutes of a Watergate tape.

The Federal CIO Council should be familiar with the dubious award, especially because it has won it before. In 2010, the council earned the title for its “lifetime failure” to address gaps in government policy for saving email records. This year, the group won again for, again, failing to address concerns about preserving agency emails, according to the National Security Archive.  

Past winners include:

  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (in 2013), for answering “No, sir”, when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” 
  • The FBI (in 2009) for responding with “no records” to an impressive number of FOIA requests

In light of emerging details about Hillary Clinton’s home-brew email system, the National Security Archives announcement noted that, hopefully, Tony Scott, the recently named federal CIO, and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert “will embrace the challenge of their council being named a repeat Rosemary Award winner and use it as a baton to spur change rather than a cross to bear.”

During Scott’s short tenure -- he was appointed in early February -- there have already been “more references in the news media to the importance of maintaining electronic government records, including email, and the requirements of the Federal Records Act, than the past five years,” the announcement said.

The council did not respond to Nextgov's request for comment. 

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