WASHINGTON --- Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa have asked Inspectors General from 29 government agencies to review whether federal agencies are taking new steps to limit responses to Freedom of Information Act requests from lawmakers, journalists, activist groups and watchdog organizations.
The request from Grassley and Issa is based on what was reported earlier this summer about Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano requiring FOIA requests to be given more scrutiny, depending on who the requestor was. The Inspectors General also have been asked to determine the extent to which political appointees are systematically made aware of FOIA requests and their role in decision-making.
“The question is to what extent an effort has been made to inhibit the accountability that’s established through the Freedom of Information Act with new hurdles or by making politically appointed officials part of the FOIA review process within the various federal agencies. These requirements could delay disclosures, and that’s a disservice to the public,” Grassley said.
“Getting through a non-partisan bureaucracy to obtain information through FOIA is difficult enough without political appointees inappropriately injecting partisan political considerations into the process,” said Rep. Issa. “There’s a clear public interest in finding out if what happened at Homeland Security is also taking place in other federal agencies. This inappropriate interference by political appointees in FOIA requests further undermines President Obama’s promise to create an unprecedented level of openness in government.”
Click here to read a copy of the letter that was sent to the 29 Inspectors General, including those from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Elections Assistance Commission, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, the General Services Administration, the Government Accountability Office, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Office of Personnel Management, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.