President Barack Obama greeted his newÂ White House staff this afternoon with a fewÂ announcements that he said “represent a clean break from business as usual.”
According to this Associated Press report, President Obama said he’s instituting a pay freeze for the roughly 100 White House employees who make more than $100,000 a year. The move is a direct response to the economic crisis gripping the nation.
In another move, Obama issued new rules that attempt to crack down on lobbyists influencing the administration. The rules restrict political appointees who leave the administration from lobbying former friends and colleagues for at least two years and ban those coming on board from working on matters they previously lobbied on or approaching agencies they once targeted. In addition, no member of the administration will be allowed to accept gifts of any size from lobbyists. And allÂ staff membersÂ must attend an ethics briefing.
And inÂ an effort to improve government transparency, Obama said he would be directing agencies to change how they respond to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. The new standard will require agencies to err on the side of making information public, rather than using legal arguments to restrict access to requested documents.
In remarks to his Cabinet secretaries and senior staff gathered at the Old Executive Office Building, Obama said his actions were “aimed at establishing firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it” and to help restore faith in government.
The executive orders and directives I’m issuing today will not by themselves make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be.Â And they do not go as far as we need to go towards restoring accountability and fiscal restraint in Washington.Â But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country.Â And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people in the days and weeks, months and years to come.Â That’s a pretty good place to start.
So what do you think? Is the new president sending the right message on how his administration is going to do things differently?