Congress should review the administration’s FOIA programs to determine if the Obama administration has cleared the backlog of FOIAs that it inherited in 2009. This review should include all departments and agencies. Each one should be required to provide information regarding their FOIA budgets going back at least 10 years, including the money they have spent on private FOIA contractors.
These departments and agencies should also be required to justify any existing FOIA requests that are more than six months old if they have hired contractors to fix the problem.
The Obama administration should release more documents in a timely manner. This voluntary release will decrease the number of FOIAs it receives and limit the amount of money spent on costly contractors. The savings gained from this simple change can be used for other purposes such as the salaries of furloughed employees or the national debt. Given the current budget crisis, the administration should support ways to cut unnecessary costs instead of increasing them.
K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a former chief counsel of the U.S. Maritime Administration in the Obama administration and a former staff member of the House Homeland Security Committee. She is currently a private consultant and academic.