White House Visitors Database

The Obama administration each month releases a log of people who pass through the White House security system, which also includes visits to the vice president's residence and two executive office buildings. The database has more than 2.5 million entries for the period from January 2009 through May. 31, 2012. The log may include some scheduled visits that did not take place and exclude visits by members of Congress, top officials and others who are not required to sign in at security gates.

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Number of White House visitors per month

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details for the month

The logs contain the names of people who enter the security gate at the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the New Executive Office Building and the vice president's residence.

The database was created for internal use and includes some inaccuracies. The name of the person listed as receiving the visitor, for example, is often a junior-level staffer responsible for signing in the visitor, but is not necessarily the person meeting with the visitor. The Washington Post standardized staff names and matched them with the White House salary database to include the employee's title.

The logs released to the public often do not include visits by U.S. lawmakers and top administration officials who are not required to sign in at security gates. If the arrival time next to a visitor's name is blank, it may indicate that a scheduled appointment was changed or the visitor did not show up.

Some visits may be removed by the administration under its disclosure policy, including personal visits to the first family and those that, if disclosed, might compromise national security or law enforcement. The administration can also withhold visits that are deemed "particularly sensitive," such as interviews with potential Supreme Court nominees.

The logs are released on a monthly basis and on a three-month delay, so visits from January will be released in April, for example. The Obama administration began releasing visitor logs in September 2009 under the terms of a court settlement. Some visits that took place between January and September 2009 have been released selectively in response to requests from the public.

The administration initially refused to provide records to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and others who requested them, saying the logs were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. In July 2009, CREW filed a lawsuit seeking access to the logs, ending in the settlement creating the database of visitor logs. The group Judicial Watch has brought an additional lawsuit seeking access to all entries in the logs, without exceptions, dating to the beginning of the administration.

SOURCE: Data.gov. GRAPHIC: Emily Chow, Jude Bowman, Greg Franczyk, T.W. Farnam - The Washington Post. Published May 21, 2012.

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