The Obama administration has cleared its backlog of White House petitions that were awaiting responses, and is promising that it will respond to future petitions in 60 days.
The White House launched "We the People" on whitehouse.gov in 2011 to allow citizens to petition the executive branch, an effort to help create an open government. In its initial format, petitions had to reach 100,000 signatures to warrant a White House response.
Under the new system, petitions will still need to have 100,000 signatures, but the White House is now promising a response "with an update or policy statement" within 60 days "wherever possible," according to a blog post by Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman on the White House website.
"You might not always be happy with what you hear from us, but we'll be upfront with you about why we can't take action on a given issue if we can't — or about why we're choosing not to," Goldman wrote. "If there's genuinely nothing we can do, we're going to let you know. If we agree with you, we'll let you know. If we're working on it, we'll tell you that. And we'll keep you posted with additional details and related content that we think you might be interested in along the way."
The White House recently had a backlog of 20 petitions, but responded to all of them on Tuesday. One of the petitions called for an overhaul of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which spells out privacy protections for emails. On that, the White House said it agrees an update is needed, but didn't endorse a specific bill.
Another called for the pardon of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, but the administration indicated it would not be taking that step.