Obama Faulted on FOIA Compliance; Audit Finds 'Overwhelming Majority' of Agencies Failing Transparency Test

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama Faulted on FOIA Compliance; Audit Finds 'Overwhelming Majority' of Agencies Failing Transparency Test


Byline: Dave Boyer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Lawmakers of both parties blasted President Obama on Tuesday for failing to live up to his promise of open government, after a report found that nearly two-thirds of his administration's agencies are failing to comply with a five-year-old law requiring bureaucrats to be more responsive to public requests for information.A governmentwide audit makes clear that the overwhelming majority of federal agencies are neither fulfilling the president's promise of an open and transparent government for the American people, nor complying with the vital reforms to the [Freedom of Information Act] process that Congress demanded, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, who helped to write those new laws.Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and co-author of the 2007 law, said Mr. Obama's pledge to make his administration the most open and transparent in history is falling far short of his goal This report reveals how hollow that pledge was, and can be added to the long list of broken promises from his administration, Mr. Cornyn said.A spokesman for the White House on government transparency issues didn't respond to a request for comment.The Freedom of Information Act audit by the National Security Archive of George Washington University found that 62 of 99 government agencies haven't updated their FOIA regulations since Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. advised department heads in March 2009 to cut through red tape and release more documents sought by the public. Mr. Holder's own department is one of the backsliders on conforming with the law.Fifty-six federal agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since the passage in 2007 of the OPEN Government Act, which mandated reforming agencies' fees, instituting tracking numbers for requests and publishing specific data on their FOIA output. Among the agencies that have failed to update their FOIA regulations are the Justice Department, the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, the Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Special Counsel.The oldest FOIA regulation belongs to the Federal Trade Commission, which has not been updated since 1975. The FTC website's section titled What's New with FOIA lists a 2005 executive order by then-President George W. …

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