The day President Obama came into office in 2009, he pledged to make government more open — and his administration subsequently issued directives to agencies to prompt reform. Back in December, the National Security Archive compiled an "audit" of agency compliance. Specifically, the Archive tracked whether agencies had updated their FOIA regs since Attorney General Eric Holder's March 19, 2009, memo ordered them to pull up their socks. Not all environmental agencies scored well.
Among those updating their regs since the Holder memo (no judgment as to whether the updates were good or bad): the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, and the Department of the Interior.
Among those that haven't updated FOIA regs since before Congress enacted FOIA amendments in 2007: Department of Agriculture, National Transportation Safety Board, Department of Energy, National Indian Gaming Commission (remember Jack Abramoff?), Department of Justice (Holder's own agency), Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board, Office of Management and Budget (which claims responsibility for FOIA discipline), Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
- "Outdated Agency Regs Undermine Freedom of Information," National Security Archive, December 4, 2012.
- "Has Obama Kept His Open-Government Pledge?" ProPublica, February 11, 2013, by Jennifer LaFleur.
This is one of the stories in the February 13, 2013 issue of SEJ's biweekly WatchDog. Find the rest of the stories and past issues here.