A Legislative Remedy
When it became clear that the federal executive would not willingly exshy; pose its business to the light of day, the press alliance with the Moss subcommittee turned to a legislative strategy. The Freedom of Informashy; tion ( FOI) Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors ( ASNE) recommended three specific statutory changes and a dozen reshy; visions in federal rules and policies. At the top of the list were amendshy; ment of the "Housekeeping" statute (5 U.S. Code 22) and the Administrative Procedures Act (5 U.S. Code 1001-1011), both of which had been identified by Representative John Moss (D-Calif.) as frequently cited authority for federal agencies to withhold information. Other recshy; ommendations included revision of President Dwight Eisenhower's Exshy; ecutive Order 10501 on national security information, reexamination of the Atomic Energy Act, an end to the suppression of unclassified inforshy; mation by the Office of Strategic Information, and a host of changes in federal policies.
Federal bureaucrats were indeed citing the obscure Housekeeping Act as authority for withholding government information. The 1789 statute had authorized department heads in George Washington's administration "to prescribe regulations, not inconsistent with law, for the government of his department, the conduct of its officers and clerks, and the custody, use and preservation of the records, papers and property appertaining thereto." 1 President Washington had never requested, nor had Congress