President-elect Barack Obama is making public details and documents of official meetings between his transition team and outside organizations such as interest groups. The policy, outlined in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, goes into effect immediately.
It is retroactive to the Nov. 4 election and covers the transition period until Jan. 20 when Obama is sworn into office as the country's 44th president.
"Every day we meet with organizations who present ideas for the transition and the administration, both orally and in writing," transition chief John Podesta said in the memo to the transition staff. "We want to ensure we give the American people a 'seat at the table' and that we receive the benefit of their feedback."
Dated Friday, the memo said that the transition team will post on its Web site the date and organizations represented at official meetings in the transition headquarters and in agency offices, as well as any policy documents and written policy recommendations from such meetings. An "official meeting" is defined as a meeting in which three or more representatives of a specific outside organization attend.
Citing privacy, the memo said the policy does not apply to personnel matters and hiring recommendations. Private or classified information also will be excluded.
"This scope is a floor, not a ceiling," said Podesta, who encouraged staff to include additional materials, such as news releases and recommendations presented in such meetings or made public by the organizations themselves at another time.
Once the information is posted, the public then can provide feedback through the Web site, http://change.gov/seatatthetable.
The policy does not extend to the administration, though Obama could institute the same requirements once he is president.
Obama has pledged an administration that is transparent and open while protecting civil rights and liberties, and Podesta himself has said the transition of power would be efficient, organized, bipartisan and "more open and transparent than others before."
Last month, Obama, who campaigned against lobbyists' influence, opened the door for them to work for him if they sign an ethics code that restricts their role in and out of government.
The transition team instituted a policy that said lobbyists can work for Obama's transition if they stop their advocacy efforts and avoid working in any field that they lobbied on in the last year. They also must pledge not to lobby the Obama administration on the same matters they focused on during the transition for a year after leaving Obama's service.