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.
A uniform software tool for inputting building permit data would make the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey (BPS) more reliable, and it would also facilitate more fine-grained geographical analysis of new housing development.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) should prioritize funding water projects for local governments that would expand the production of new housing in their service areas if given the water resources to do so.
Congress needs to amend the definition of a manufactured home to remove the phrase “on a permanent chassis.” By doing this, Congress can eliminate wasted construction materials, allow new multifamily design options under the HUD Code, and unleash competition from factory-built manufactured housing.
Satellite images show that the Navy has begun construction of a new nuclear weapons storage and handling facility at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.