US Pres George W. Bush has little more than 10 months left in office. But the effect of his decisions regarding government records may prove to be long-lasting. According to open-government groups, the US government has become more secretive over the past seven years and, unless Congress or the next president changes the current culture in Washington regarding the openness of government records, that trend may continue. In November 2001, Bush issued Executive Order 13233, giving former presidents -- and, for the first time, vice presidents -- and their families the authority to withhold the release of presidential records in perpetuity. The government's e-mail retention procedures have also come under fire. A few significant laws passed recently should encourage increased government openness. The Openness Promotes Effectiveness in their National Government Act (S. 2488) will speed the release of millions of government documents requested by Americans under the Freedom Of Information Act..
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