By Gautham Nagesh - 03/31/11 02:33 PM EDT
After canceling a scheduled appearance to accept an award from transparency advocates during Sunshine Week earlier this month, President Obama finally accepted the award this week — without letting anyone know.
According to various reports, Obama met with several transparency advocates for roughly 20 minutes on Monday to discuss open-government issues and accept an award for his commitment to increasing federal transparency.
“It’s almost a theater of the absurd to have an award on transparency that isn’t transparent,” Gary Bass, founder of OMB Watch, told The Washington Post. “The irony is that everything the president said was spot-on. I wish people had heard what he had to say.”
The White House failed to disclose the meeting on its daily schedule and hasn't released any statement, photos or transcripts from the event. Bass said he couldn't defend the White House's decision not to disclose the meeting to reporters.
Ellen Miller, co-founder of the prominent transparency watchdog Sunlight Foundation, called the award a "notion foolishly conceived" during an interview with The Hill last week and said the president's stated commitment to transparency is not enough to justify an award.
Sunlight has been critical of the Obama administration's follow-through on its transparency pledges in recent months, arguing the data published on sites like Data.gov and trumpeted by the White House is actually of limited usefulness.