Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (born August 4, 1961) was elected president of the United States in 2008. He was sworn in January of 2009. Previously, he served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois and was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election. He is the first African American to win enough support for the nomination of any major American political party and will serve as the first African American president in the United States.
Campaigning on transparency
President Obama campaigned on a platform of increased transparency. He promised that he would make the debates on universal health care open to the public by having them air on C-SPAN.  Recently, Obama recomitted to transparency, stating he wants to "move forward in a way that recaptures that sense of opening things up more."
The president asked for federal agencies to release important information to be posted on Data.org. On his first full day as president, he issued a memo directing executive branch agencies to come up with concrete plans to make government more transparent, participatory and collaborative. 
As a senator, Obama sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.
The health care debates were never aired on C-SPAN and are, in fact, being worked out in private.  House Republicans have been especially persistent in their critique of the president's transparency efforts, underlining the lack of openness in health care debate proceedings. 
The data the president asked federal agencies to release for Data.org turned out to be a repackaging of old information or of marginal value. One transparency advocate stated the data "were so complex and specialized [he] couldn't even figure out if they were particularly useful or not." As far as his other effort, Recovery.org, it has been criticized for inacurate data.  Other data sets were incomplete and irrelevant to the general population, and was the not kind of information that could be used to keep agencies accountable. 
Advocates for open government say it is unrealistic to expect all government business to play out publicly. Some have said that the United States has witnessed, under the Obama Administration, "some of the most substantive efforts to open the White House to the public than we have in decades, if ever." This is under the presumption that Obama's transparency successes are all related to "groundwork" for transparency, such as stating that the presumption for public records should be towards openness and by releasing the visitors logs at the white house. Groups including Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters and U.S. PIRG have applauded these efforts, primarily Obama's focus on increasing transparency in lobbying activities.  
Also, while data sets may be repeats of previously available information for Data.org, data in its raw form is valuable, and the president's push for transparency led to interesting and relevant information being released: The Department of Health and Human Services posted its annual summary of Medicare Part B spending, information it previously sold on CD-ROMs for $100 and the Executive Office of the President published the history of economic forecasts, among others.
The fact that Obama is has brought transparency into the discussion has already helped open up government. For example, the Senate Democratic leadership responded to criticism about the closed-door meetings on healthcare by posting large amounts of material on the internet with uncharacteristic speed. Shortly after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) produced the healthcare bill that went before the Senate, the full 383-page text was up on the leadership's website.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Obama's transparency record appears cloudy", Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2010
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Obama and Transparency: What Happens Next?", Huffington Post, January 27, 2010
- ↑ Republicans Fault Obama on Transparency, New York Times, blog, January 27, 2010
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Info released under Obama transparency order is of little value, critics say", Washington Post, January 28, 2010
- ↑ "Good government groups give Obama high grades on lobbying, transparency", Washington Post, January 11, 2010
- ↑ "Obama Scores Points for Transparency", Political Affairs Magazine, January 13, 2010