Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hide and Seek

In today's New York Times there is an item about presidential signing statements, "Obama's Embrace of a Bush Tactic Riles Congress," which discusses a topic that has been of great interest to this blog from an information design perspective. I must say that seven months into the Obama administration I am discouraged by the navigation offered on the White House website to materials with signing statements, despite their promises to offer transparency upon the workings of the federal government and use the affordances of Internet technology to do so.

First of all, there is no category for "signing statements" in "Presidential Actions," even though such statements effectively nullify provisions in congressional legislation. Second, a curious citizen could not find substantive information about the five signing statements Obama has issued by using the White House search engine. By the principle of redundancy, one would hope that both searching and browsing could offer fruitful results to those looking for information on a website, but to be able to offer Internet users neither is truly shameful.

The terrible quality of the White House search engine is particularly shameful. Typing in "signing statement" or "signing statements" fails to even bring up "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies - SUBJECT: Presidential Signing Statements" in which the keywords are in the title of the electronic document.

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Blogger Jardinero1 said...

Maybe the White House could direct users to Google or Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article contains footnote references to four Obama signing statements:

At least someone outside the White House is doing their homework.

9:26 PM  

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