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White House Office of Administration drops transparency regulation on freedom of information day

"It's a little tone deaf to do this on Sunshine Week, even if it's an administrative housecleaning," said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government initiative for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   March 16, 2015 at 3:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- The White House Office of Administration on Monday announced it's deleting regulations subjecting it to the Freedom of Information Act seven years after a federal judge ruled the office doesn't have to comply with the law.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in June 2008 the Office of Administration was not subject to FOIA regulations because it doesn't employ "the type of substantial independent authority that the D.C. Circuit has found sufficient to make an (executive office of the president) component an agency under the FOIA."

The Office of Administration provides administrative support and business services to the president's executive office.

The ruling came about after the office wasn't able to comply with a government watchdog group's FOIA request for up to 22 million emails. The White House said the emails had been deleted by a computer glitch.

It's not clear why it took seven years, but the office is now removing the FOIA policy from the Federal Register.

What's more peculiar is the timing of the announcement. Monday is National Freedom of Information Day and the week is known as Sunshine Week, when news organizations emphasize government transparency.

"Their timing is exquisite," Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, told USA Today.

"It's a little tone deaf to do this on Sunshine Week, even if it's an administrative housecleaning," added Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government initiative for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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