For Immediate Release
Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565
DC Circuit Holds Office of Administration Is Not an Agency, Not Subject to FOIA
of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion upholding the
district court's conclusion that the Office of Administration (OA) is
not an agency and therefore is not subject to the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). CREW brought this lawsuit under the FOIA to
uncover documents related to OA's response to the discovery that
millions of emails had gone missing from White House servers.
Although OA had a history of responding to FOIA requests - in fact the
office's own website included regulations for filing FOIA requests with
OA - after CREW sued OA suddenly claimed it was not an agency and was
not required to produce any of the requested documents. The district
court sided with the Bush administration, finding that OA was not an
agency because it performed only administrative support functions and
did not exercise substantial independent authority. In today's ruling,
the D.C. Circuit agreed with that decision.
Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel, stated, "We are disappointed in
the D.C. Circuit's ruling, which failed to come to grips with the fact
that OA is not the functional equivalent of the sort of close
presidential adviser Congress intended to exclude from the FOIA's
definition of agency. Regardless of this legal ruling, CREW and 36
other organizations have called on the Obama administration to grant
the public access to OA's documents under the FOIA as a matter of
policy. Every president except for George W. Bush has treated OA as an
agency subject to the FOIA and we are counting on President Obama to do
the same. After all, transparency and accountability start at home."
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.