Gee, whiz: Federal agencies lagging way behind on Obama’s transparency promises

posted at 3:41 pm on December 6, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

We’re totally committed to “creating an unprecedented level an openness in government,” he said. “In the face of doubt, openness prevails,” he assured us. “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he promised. So, how’s all that unprecedented transparency and openness been going for our freshly reelected administration?

Earlier this week, Dana Milbank wrote a great piece calling out the Obama administration for their hypocritical level of opacity, and The Atlantic has more: When President Obama first took office in 2009, he circulated a memo to the heads of federal agencies admonishing them to get serious about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Oddly, most agencies have yet to snap to attention and make transparency a priority:

Two months later, Attorney General Eric Holder issued new guidelines to agency heads, urging them to streamline their FOIA process and make more information available. …

A new audit from the National Security Archive found that 62 of the 99 government agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since then and the vast majority of those — 56 — have not even updated them since the passage of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which “mandated that agencies reform their fee structures, institute request tracking numbers, publish specific data on their FOIA output, and cooperate with the new FOIA mediators at the Office of Government Information Services.” Additionally, only six agencies (NARA, the EPA, Commerce, Treasury, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and the Merit Systems Protection Board) have joined FOIAonline, a one-stop shop for making and tracking FOIA requests.

As the piece points out, it’s not that hard for administrators that care to do so to comply with Obama’s transparency promises and directives, but they were directives issued without any teeth in them — it was pretty much just a showy request, and Obama isn’t bothering to make sure anything is being done about it. I believe the golfing terminology is “follow-through.”

Speaking of openness, The Most Transparent Administration Evah booted reporters from a Business Roundtable meeting yesterday, saying that the press probably had “enough there.. to spin a story.” It must be good to be a well-entrenched, well-connected business in the Obama economy, via The Hill:

Business Forward on Thursday will host the last in a series of seven briefings where high-level Obama administration officials have discussed the budgets cuts and tax increases of the fiscal cliff with business executives. …

Some of Business Forward’s members include AT&T, Facebook, Lockheed Martin, McDonald’s, Verizon and Wal-Mart, according to the group’s website.

The White House outreach comes amid a broader push by Obama to rally business support for a deficit deal. The president has summoned groups of chief executives to the White House for fiscal cliff discussions, and on Wednesday made a visit to the Business Roundtable, one of the leading industry groups in town. …

“When you’re an ally of the president, you can often bring in as many people into the White House that you want,” said Jade West, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

“Business Forward is a political organization founded to support the Obama administration. So the fact they can bring people in to see the president and his people is neither a surprise nor terribly impressive,” West said.

As much as Obama loves to talk a big game about cracking down on the supposed malpractices of big business, there’s a whole heap of malpractice that comes from rent-seeking through the channels made available by big government. As I’ve said before, the Obama administration loves big business, and they love to be loved by big business. All of these rules and regulations ostensibly meant to protect consumers can actually be pretty darn helpful for the big guy, because they crowd out the little guy with compliance costs and allow the well-monied big guy to get into the White House through the front door. Then, Obama gets to look like he’s welcoming business leaders’ ideas and input, and say, see? All of these successful, big businesses really do support my policies. Yeah, no kidding.


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FOAI Obama’s “Naughty & Nice” list, just for fun.

Christien on December 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

s/b FOIA

The funny part is when they come back and swear that no such list exists.

Christien on December 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I don’t know … Barky and the rest of the feral government have been telling more transparent lies than ever before in history. Pathetic, obvious, transparent idiocies that only a third worlder could actually believe.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

This is such a shocker!

–Said No One Ever

search4truth on December 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

s/b FOIA

Christien on December 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I thought you meant to write “FOAD”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

OMG, Jade West is everything that is wrong with Washington. Unbelievably hypocritical of this White House to have anything to do with her.

rockmom on December 6, 2012 at 3:49 PM

I thought you meant to write “FOAD”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Heh

antipc on December 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

So Obama creates his little Potemkin business group and thinks this will give him cover to further destroy the economy? Just like his so-called Jobs Council which nobody bought.

Bunch of business guys paying lobbyists a lot of money to get them lunch at the White House.

rockmom on December 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Most transparently dishonest and corrupt administration ever.

rbj on December 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Aw, come on. They don’t answer to us. We answer to them.
Why should they tell us anything ? They are there because they KNOW.

Jabberwock on December 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Among the administration’s many violations of public trust to recently become public is the Environmental Protection Agency’s apparent attempt to keep some of its correspondence hidden from the light of day through the use of aliases.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, for instance, has reportedly used the name “Richard Windsor” to cover her tracks in private emails.

Federal law prohibits the government from using private emails for official communications unless they are appropriately stored and can be tracked. Because things look suspicious at the EPA, the House Science Committee is investigating the possibility that the agency has conducted business it doesn’t want the public to see.

On Friday, the committee delivered letters to the EPA and “various agency inspectors general” seeking to find out if “senior personnel have been conducting official business through secretive means such as aliases and private email accounts.”

The letters, sent by committee Republican members, express concern that “senior Obama Administration appointees” might be violating the Federal Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act, and “other statutes designed to facilitate transparency and oversight.”

Nearly two months ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute sued the EPA over its refusal to produce information about the creation and use of secondary email accounts set up for the agency’s top level officials.

Akzed on December 6, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Liberals are cool with this … they only require transparency with Republican administrations. Liberals are for the most part pro-corruption.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 3:56 PM

MEET THE NEW BOSS…

SAME AS THE OLD BOSS.

Marcola on December 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I thought you meant to write “FOAD”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

LOL! Po-tay-toe, po-tah-to.

Christien on December 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Loud-mouthed con artists come and go, but “the govt” is forever.

OldEnglish on December 6, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Give poor Obama a break; one Messiah can only do so much, and he’s still working on his first and foremost duty (in addition to his record-setting odes to golfing and crafting of Executive Orders): the all-impotent slowing the rise of the oceans and healing of the planet …

ShainS on December 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

erika’s favorite turtle is now reduced to filibustering himself.

clowns.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Boosh is to blame.

FlaMurph on December 6, 2012 at 4:13 PM

clowns.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

You’re an incompetent, clueless stooge. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Don’t push them for results, they’re all on black peoples time.

Mr. Arrogant on December 6, 2012 at 4:22 PM

You’re an incompetent, clueless stooge. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

pooh-pooh.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

The president has summoned groups of chief executives to the White House for fiscal cliff discussions,

Imperial Presidency indeed with a strong emphasis on Imperial.

chemman on December 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM

OT: Google buying drones to stop whalers and gun owners

It has begun.

faraway on December 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM

erika’s favorite turtle is now reduced to filibustering himself.

clowns.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

What does your post have to do with the thread’s topic?

Others have been banned here for this kind of trolling – let’s hope it happens to you!

Anti-Control on December 6, 2012 at 4:32 PM

pooh-pooh.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Feel free to dazzle me anytime with your knowledge and wit. I’ll be waiting with bated breath.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 4:33 PM

OT: Google buying drones to stop whalers and gun owners

It has begun.

faraway on December 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Arms race. Anti-drone.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Arms race. Anti-drone.

darwin on December 6, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I’d give money for that. And if the drones taken out of the sky just happened to land on google street view spy-cams …. so be it.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM

pooh-pooh.

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

…yes you are…in every sense!

KOOLAID2 on December 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM

sesquipedalian on December 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

You’re an idiot.

And stupid, to boot.

But then, you’re a leftoid drone…so all that’s a given.

(Be sure to ask Santa for new kneepads for “winter holiday”. Or kwanza. Or whatever.)

Solaratov on December 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

pooh-pooh.

sesquipedalian

Better tell your Mommy wipe your a**

Idiot!

Gothguy on December 6, 2012 at 7:00 PM