Slowly and unevenly, the Obama Administration’s open government message is filtering down to the agency level.
We have entered “a new era of open government,” Army officials informed a government audience recently. There will be “increased emphasis on the Freedom of Information Act… Agency FOIA programs must be improved… Commanders need to direct all agency personnel to place a higher priority on timely assistance to FOIA personnel.”
The FOIA requester “is not an adversary,” the Army FOIA Management Conference was told, according to November 2009 briefing slides (pdf) that were released last month.
In reality, many FOIA proceedings are quite adversarial. But perhaps the Army meant that both FOIA requesters and FOIA responders are part of the same process, and therefore ought to cooperate as far as possible. It’s a wholesome message to send.