SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has taken another baby step toward increased transparency, acknowledging in its annual report that the world’s largest charitable foundation is too secretive and hard to work with.

The report, posted online Tuesday, includes the usual financial information and a look at the foundation’s plans. But it also offers a glimpse of the organization’s attempts to be more open.

CEO Jeff Raikes draws attention in the report to a grantee survey that gave the foundation poor marks for communicating its goals and strategies, and for confusing people with its complicated grantmaking process.

However, few but charity insiders noticed the unfavorable review, and the foundation could have let it fade into obscurity.

Instead, Raikes points out the results for all to see in the annual report, right next to his letter outlining the foundation’s priorities for the near future.

The Gates Foundation also has been criticized for having a small board of directors — the co-chairs and Buffett — running such a large charitable organization.

Pablo Eisenberg of Georgetown University’s Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership said the foundation has a moral obligation to share its decision-making process more broadly as it distributes what is partly taxpayer dollars that they saved on taxes by giving the money away.

“There’s no substitute for other points of view and perspectives around the table when a so-called board is about to make a decision on priorities and programs affecting $3 billion a year or more,” Eisenberg said.

The foundation, which has an endowment of $33 billion, made grants totaling $3 billion in 2009. far the biggest portion went to global health, where grants totaling more than $1.8 billion were made last year.

Global development including agriculture and financial services for the poor was the next biggest grant area, followed by U.S. education and construction of the foundation’s new Seattle headquarters.

In his annual letter, Raikes says eradicating polio will be a major push next year, both in dollars granted and vocal advocacy.

Global health, particularly vaccine research and distribution, will continue to be the focus, with an eye toward meeting the United National’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015.