Posts Tagged ‘White House’

FOI DAILY DOSE: GAO turns 90; transparency problems apparent in White House, State Dept.

90 candles for the GAO

The Government Accountability Office can blow out 90 candles for its birthday this month.

Since its creation in 1921, the GAO has been keeping watch over government spending. It oversees how taxpayer funds are used and how money is spent on everything from the Iraq war to NASA’s latest project.

The GAO was known as the General Accounting Office for the better part of its existence before former comptroller David Walker changed its name to the Government Accountability Office in 2004.

Check out the anniversary video the GAO has released about its long history.

State Dept. slacking on FOIA requests

Despite President Obama’s calls for government agencies to become more efficient in responding to FOIA requests, some are still lagging behind in their response times – particularly the State Department, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

CPI received notices from the State Department asking it to withdraw requests from 2007 that have yet to be completed.

The documents in question were requested by former CPI reporter Devin Varsalona for a story on how Obama and other presidents traditionally provide diplomatic postings to major donors. Many of the journalist’s requests were still unfilled when the story was published in 2008.

This isn’t the first time the State Department has been called out for being unresponsive regarding transparency issues like FOIA requests. As of March 10, the State Department still had not provided a final response to Obama’s memo on open government according to a National Security Archive study.

White House meetings not as transparent as promised

The Obama administration is supposedly in favor of transparency – but not if they’re talking about debt reduction.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing June 30 that the executive branch was so serious about reaching a debt-reduction deal with Congress that it would hold meetings without notifying the press corps about them.

Carney did backtrack during the press briefing, saying that there aren’t meetings with major leaders that are kept secret even though not all presidential meetings are publicly noted.

Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner Sunday – but the White House meeting wasn’t on his public schedule. Politico writer David Rogers was the first to report the meeting on Tuesday, but Carney would neither confirm nor deny news of the meeting on Wednesday.

He also justified the secrecy surrounding meetings by arguing that reaching a solid budget deal was more important and that having up-to-date information on presidential meetings is of little concern to members of the general public, according to Politico.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


FOI Friday: FBI trying to obtain Internet activity records without judge approval

Happy FOI Friday, everyone!

FOI Links: Obama’s fight against media leaks


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