Obama Cabinet's Transparency Grade: F

Bloomberg: 19 of 20 departments don't comply with 'FOIA' rules

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 28, 2012 10:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – While the Obama administration assails Mitt Romney for keeping his tax returns quiet, it seems the White House has some transparency flaws of its own. Entering office, President Obama called for "a new era of open government." Bloomberg put this to the test by requesting documents from agencies throughout the administration—and the results earned officials a failing grade. Of the 20 Cabinet agencies, 19 failed to reveal top officials' travel costs within the 20-day window set out in the Freedom of Information Act.

In fact, only eight of the 57 total federal agencies met that requirement. Half of those agencies eventually released the information—but most were very late in making the disclosures, despite a 2009 memo from Attorney General Eric Holder calling speed "an essential component of transparency." The Obama administration has also extensively used exemptions to free-information rules. In its first year, it used those exemptions 466,402 times, 50% more than did the Bush administration in its last year. The number has since decreased, and a Department of Homeland Security rep says the online release of documents has changed the process, meaning FOIA requests are "more complex." Click through for Bloomberg's full investigation.

President Barack Obama speaks at Farm Bureau Live during a campaign stop in Virginia Beach, Va. on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Stephen M. Katz)
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