The Department of Defense is moving ahead smartly in response to President Bush’s executive order (EO) 13392 directing agencies to improve the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests.
Many outside observers were puzzled by the issuance of the December 14, 2005 order, since the current Administration has been no friend of FOIA or of public access to government information generally.
But even a perfunctory gesture from the President of the United States can have policy consequences, and agencies are now sorting through those consequences.
“Recent heightened interest in the FOIA from the public, the media, watchdog organizations, and the Congress has resulted in the need for the Federal Agencies to re-examine their FOIA programs,” wrote Michael B. Donley, DoD Director of Administration and Management.
“Historically, DoD Component FOIA programs have been under-emphasized, resulting in inadequate staffing and funding,” he wrote.
“To comply with the provisions of the EO, DoD Components must ensure that proper procedures are established and adequate resources are applied to their FOIA programs.”
See “Executive Order 13392 on the Freedom of Information Act — DoD Implementation,” memorandum for senior Department officials, February 1, 2006.
Meanwhile, however, the Pentagon public affairs office has been playing secrecy games with reporters, withholding budget documents from the press until the last possible moment.
See “DOD denies reporters budget prep time” by Pamela Hess, United Press International, February 6, 2006.