Biden’s Ethics Plan Earns First Victory for Accountability Reform Advocates

This post from Open The Government originally appeared here.

January 22, 2021

Washington, D.C. —  By signing an executive order on ethics commitments for the executive branch on his first day in office, President Joe Biden demonstrated the importance of structural ethics reforms that protect the public interest rather than public officials’ gain.

The executive order is a major victory for accountability experts from across the political spectrum, who in 2020 developed the ethics recommendations in Accountability 2021.

Convened by Open The Government, the Accountability 2021 initiative was created by a broad coalition of good government, democracy reform, anti-corruption, and civil rights organizations as a roadmap designed to help the new administration address gaps in oversight laws and practices that, combined with the Trump’s administration’s disdain for ethical norms against conflicts of interest and self-dealing, created a historic crisis in our democracy.

The initiative called on the president to issue a strong executive order on Day One to elevate ethics as a core value in the executive branch. President Biden did just that, and advocates will look to his administration to continue making ethics reform a priority.

“Unethical behavior by government officials has contributed to the public’s deep distrust of government. President Biden’s ethics plan sends a strong message that his administration is committed to reversing course by instilling a culture of ethics from the top down,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open The Government.

“We are thrilled Biden recognized the value of the practical yet transformational ethics solutions mapped out in Accountability 2021 and encourage the new administration to adopt more of the recommendations to repairour democratic foundations, and help rebuild them so that our institutions serve us all better than at any time (or administration) in the past,” said Rosenberg.

Below are several of the ethics recommendations in Accountability 2021 reflected in Biden’s Day One actions:

The Biden administration also committed to other Day One and short-term Accountability 2021 recommendations, including:

A summary of the broader recommendations mapped out in Accountability 2021 for the new administration is available here.


CLC Calls for Biden Administration To Restore Government Accountability Through Ethics Reforms

This blog post from Campaign Legal Center on Accountability 2021 was originally published here.

By Delaney Marsco
December 2, 2020

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has joined a nonpartisan coalition, Open the Government, in calling on the Biden administration to implement an agenda of robust ethics reforms. The agenda, called Accountability 2021, includes a broad range of accountability principles that are designed to guide executive and legislative priorities for the incoming administration.

The purpose of these recommendations is to ensure that many of the ethics norms and laws that have been eroded over time are restored.

They recognize that our democracy depends on eliminating regulatory capture, implementing robust disclosure that helps the public discern conflicts of interest, and restoring the public’s trust that government is working for them and not special interests.

The incoming administration can make meaningful ethics reforms through executive action on day one as well as longer-term action and legislative fixes using these recommendations as a guide.

Specifically, on the ethics front, the recommendations include ways the Biden administration can prioritize ethics and center ethical government service to ensure the government is acting in the best interest of the public.

The new administration should appoint a Chief Accountability Officer who can coordinate the administration’s ethics agenda. The Biden administration should implement an ethics executive order that includes an ethics pledge, required to be signed by all senior political appointees.

The recommendations also call on the Biden administration to prioritize ethics disclosure and lobbyist disclosure reform. The public has a right to know what wealthy special interests are influencing executive branch decision making and are lobbying elected officials.

The new administration should establish a Lobbying Reform Task Force to help guide lobbying disclosure reforms.

These recommendations and others are available on the Accountability 2021 website.



Government accountability and transparency experts are available to speak to the media regarding the recommendations in Accountability 2021. The expert profiles below contain brief biographical information to help you identify the most relevant expert for your needs. If you would like to connect with an expert, email or call (202) 332-0251.

Emily Manna, Policy Director, Open The Government. Manna’s policy work focuses on transparency and accountability for U.S. military and national security programs, records management and data preservation, and expanding proactive disclosure and the public’s right to know.

Anne Weismann, Founder and Executive Director, Campaign for Accountability. Weismann is the former Chief Counsel and Chief FOIA Counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Austin Evers, Executive Director, American Oversight. Evers founded American Oversight in 2017 to leverage his experience as a litigator and government attorney to promote accountability in government.

Beth Rotman, Money in Politics & Ethics Program Director, Common Cause. Rotman was the founding director of Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program and had previously served as deputy general counsel for New York City’s Campaign Finance Board. She clerked for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, working closely with now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Steve Ellis, President, Taxpayers for Common Sense. Ellis joined TCS in 1999 and became president in 2020 after serving for well over a decade as vice president, overseeing programs and serving as a leading media and legislative spokesperson. 

Anne Tindall, Counsel, Protect Democracy. Tindall most recently served as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation and Oversight at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, representing the agency in federal court and before Congress and other oversight bodies.

Irvin McCullough, Deputy Director of Legislation and National Security Analyst, Government Accountability Project. McCullough specializes in Intelligence Community and military whistleblowing. He supports investigations, legislation, and litigation within GAP’s national security program.


Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen. Weissman is the president of Public Citizen and a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on corporate and government accountability.

Liz Borkowski, MHP, Research Scientist, Department of Health Policy and Management,  Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University. Borkowski is the managing editor of Women’s Health Issues, the peer-reviewed journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health.