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The Accountability 2021 initiative centers around 18 core principles across broad categories that reflect the foundation of a responsive government, specifically:
Principle 1: The public has a right to complete, accurate, and timely information necessary to hold officials accountable and to participate fully in government.
Principle 2: Secrecy undermines democracy and paves the way for rights violations and abuses.
Principle 3: The administration must elevate ethics as a core value by prioritizing meaningful structural ethics reforms and committing publicly to adhere to the rules and the values and norms behind them.
Principle 4: The people in government should work for the public, not for personal or private interests.
Principle 5: To judge whether the government is acting ethically and to hold unethical actors accountable, the government must preserve meaningful ethics records and make timely ethics disclosures.
Principle 6: The public has a right to: meaningful disclosure concerning all individuals and organizations lobbying their elected officials; a government free from wealthy special interests placing their own loyal personnel into government posts; and a government free from former government officials exploiting their networks within government for personal gain.
Principle 7: The executive branch must respect the limits of the presidency and recognize that it must act as one of three co-equal branches of government.
Principle 8: No one is above the law. Our justice system must serve the vulnerable and marginalized in our society rather than merely the politically powerful.
Principle 9: Whistleblowers play a critical role in constitutional checks and balances and exposing executive branch abuses; therefore, they must have meaningful channels to make disclosures and solid protections from retaliation.
Principle 10: Existing deregulatory maneuvers, which have undermined public health, safety, environment, equity, civil rights, fairness, justice and democracy should be repealed.
Principle 11: The regulatory process should be rebalanced to advance health, safety, justice, democracy and equity values and priorities and to ensure appropriate consideration is given to non-monetary benefits.
Principle 12: Centralized review of regulatory action should be revamped to promote timely rulemaking to strengthen public protections.
Principle 13: Citizens should be empowered to participate to make regulations work, and undue influence of regulated entities in rulemakings should be ended.
Principle 14: When rules are challenged, agency expertise should be given deference
Principle 15: Regulatory enforcement and accountability for regulatory violations should be strengthened.
Principle 16: In order to protect the health and wellbeing of the public during and after the coronavirus pandemic, government decisions must be transparent and informed by science, and expert opinion must be shared with the public and not be constrained by political interference, fear of retribution or suppression.
Principle 17: The consequences of the pandemic should not be disproportionately worse for the economically vulnerable, communities of color, and other under-represented communities.
Principle 18: Access to Information, including around government supplies, research, spending, and health data related to COVID-19 will result in better preparedness for future pandemic or other crises that impact the health of the population.