For Immediate Release
Garrett Russo 202.408.5565
CREW: FOIA Workers Need Reinforcements
WASHINGTON - Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report detailing the state of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under the Obama administration based on the results of a survey CREW conducted of hundreds of FOIA professionals in the federal government. The survey results reveal a wide range of concerns, from political interference in the processing of FOIA requests to a lack of training for staff. Survey respondents identified lack of staffing and lack of funding as the biggest impediments to implementing the FOIA at their agencies.
"While the Obama administration has taken several positive steps forward, there is still a ways to go," said Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel. "Despite the administration's emphasis on transparency and accountability, the harsh reality is that without more money for staffing and other resources, we cannot expect significant improvement in how agencies implement the FOIA."
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CREW's survey results also suggest mixed results for some of the administration's key FOIA initiatives. The new chief FOIA officers, intended to bring more accountability to the agency FOIA process, were described by one survey respondent as a "useless position filled by someone who is already wearing too many managerial hats." Most agreed this new level of bureaucracy has not made processing requests any easier, although one respondent credited the agency's chief FOIA officer with getting "an agency-wide directive signed that clarified that every agency employee plays a role in FOIA."
Additionally, while the majority of survey respondents were aware of the administration's pro-disclosure policies - expressed in memoranda from the president and attorney general - this awareness has yet to translate into a major shift in the FOIA culture across the federal government.
CLICK HERE to read the report, FOIA at the Mid-term: Obstacles to Transparency Remain.
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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.