Tracking the (Lack of) Progress on FOIA
July 27, 2006
Filed under Open Government
A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report today confirms what many in the open government community have known for some time: government agencies are not living up to their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. Earlier this month, we contributed to a report published by OpenTheGovernment.org, that tracked how well agencies had responded to a 2005 presidential order intended to improve the disclosure of information. The results were not good. Many agencies failed to properly respond and others lagged badly in implementing FOIA. The GAO report offers further confirmation that government agencies haven't made FOIA a priority. Not only are agencies not meeting their obligations, the GAO report suggests that they probably won't unless some structure/pressure is applied to make it happen. From the report: "Without clearly defined baselines, specific objectives, and timetables for reducing backlog, it could be challenging for agency heads, Justice, and the Congress to gauge progress in improving FOIA processes as intended by the Executive Order."