Not the best news to hear during Sunshine Week, but better than I expected.
Big surprise, federal agencies reportedly are not following the president's direction for a "new era of open government," according to a study dealing with how government follows the federal Freedom of Information act.
The National Security Archive, a private group, on Sunday (the first day of Sunshine Week, an annual obervance by journalists) published a report that indicated:
—Thirty-three of the 90 agencies now have an older unfulfilled request than they did on Sept. 30, 2008.
—Five agencies reported releasing less and withholding more information during the 2009 budget year, which includes the first nine months of the Obama administration, than they did the previous year.
—35 of the 90 agencies told the auditors they had no records of putting in place the new FOIA policies enacted by President Obama.
Obama had ordered agencies to release any information whose disclosure wasn't prohibited by law or wouldn't cause foreseeable harm, thus rescinding the Bush-era order to stall, withhold and fight any request for public record information.
If there is any "Sunshine" in the study. it was that 20 or the 90 agencies had improved the date of their oldest open request from 2008 by more than one month, and the CIA improved its oldest request by nearly a18 months.
Four agencies — the departments of Justice and Agriculture, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration — had increased the number of requests that got all or part of the documents sought and decreased the number that were completely denied, compared with 2008.
But the departments of State, Transportation and the Treasury, along with NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office granted full or partial releases to fewer requests and completely denied more requests than the year before.
Yep, the agencies really do believe the public has a right to know what they are doing in the name of freedom ... sure they do?!? And, if you don't believe it, just ask them, but don't expect to get an answer ... it might be "classified."