Washington > Carter Demands Transparency

| June 8, 2015

Carter Buddy

Buddy Carter, United States House of Representatives

WASHINGTON — This week, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held several hearings to examine the unacceptable backlog of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and the lack of transparency from the Obama Administration. FOIA was signed into law in 1966 and allows the public to request records from any federal agency covered by FOIA. Last year, 100 agencies were subjected to FOIA and anyone has the ability to file a FOIA request by submitting a letter to the agency.

On President Obama’s first full day in office, he committed to creating openness and transparency in the government. However, the Administration has catastrophically failed to live up to this promise. In March 2014, the AP reported that the Obama Administration more often than any other administration has censored government files or outright denied access. Of the more than 700,000 FOIA requests received by the Administration last year, less than 30 percent yielded a full disclosure of records to the requestor. Even worse, nearly 40 percent of requests received no results at all.

The worst offender of the backlog is the Department of Homeland Security. While DHS receives more FOIA requests than any other federal entity, the department also has the largest backlog of FOIA requests. In fiscal year 2014, the DHS backlog more than doubled from 51,575 to 103,480. DHS now accounts for nearly 65 percent of the entire federal backlog. During the hearings this week, I pressed the witnesses for answers on this unacceptable backlog and highlighted the need for my legislation to reduce, improve and streamline the FOIA request process at DHS.

Recently, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed my bill, H.R. 1615, the DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015, and it now heads to the House floor for consideration of the full House of Representatives. I will continue to push for support of my bill and other legislation to reduce the FOIA backlog and force the Administration to be accountable for their commitment to transparency.

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