The Obama administration often fails to uphold its rhetoric claiming open government, according to an expert speaker at a conference May 15 in Washington, DC.
The Justice Department and White House Office of Management and Budget appear to be resisting valuable freedom of information policies other departments are implementing, said Anne Wesimann, chief counsell for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Part of the resistence takes the form of a failure by about half of all federal departments in creating regulations to implement a 2010 federal law on public access. Further, many agencies fight information-seekers in court rather than comply with statutory deadlines.
Weismann, who described a highly promising electronic freedom of information system used by the National Archives, Environmental Protection Agency, and a half dozen other departments, was an opening panelist on an all-day session attended by approximately 150 persons at the Newseum in recognition of “2013 National Freedom of Information Day.”
Weismann, a former staffer with the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department, and several other speakers provided a number of practical tips for frustrated researchers, as well as several stimulating policy questions. Two government speakers responded to Weismann's remarks. The program for this valuable conference is available through the website of one of its sponsors, OpenGovernment.org.