It is no secret that the Administration of Barack Obama has a disgraceful transparency record, despite all of the President’s “most transparent Administration in history” rhetoric. And a Government Accountability Office report last week concluded that the government’s agency for monitoring Federal compliance with public records law needs to be reworked.
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) put into place by Congress four years ago should work harder to vet agencies’ compliance with current public records law and changes to regulations related to public records.
“While OGIS has suggested improvements to a number of those regulations and notices, it has not performed the reviews of regulations and notices in a proactive, comprehensive manner, and has not conducted any reviews of agencies’ compliance with the law,” the GAO said. “In addition, since it was established 4 years ago, the office has not developed a methodology for conducting reviews of agencies’ FOIA policies and procedures, or for compliance with [Freedom of Information Act] requirements.”
The nonpartisan group Cause of Action made a similar point in March. The group tested government transparency by submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to 16 different Federal agencies in April 2012 concerning spending on promotional items between January 2009 and April 2012. The organization then kept a log of which agencies complied and which did not, determining that the Obama-led government scored only a “C-” in terms of FOIA compliance.