The Boston Globe

PROMISES, PROMISES: Records not so open with Obama
The Boston Globe

One year into its promise of greater government transparency, the Obama administration is more often citing exceptions to the nation’s open records law to withhold federal records even as the number of requests for information declines, according to a review by The Associated Press of agency audits about the Freedom of Information Act.

Major agencies cited the exemption at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, up from 47,395 times during President George W. Bush’s final full budget year, according to annual reports filed by federal agencies. Obama was president for nine months in the 2009 period. The government’s track record under the Freedom of Information Act is widely considered a principal measurement of how transparently it makes decisions.

The AP’s review of annual Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the administration’s use of nearly every one of the law’s nine exemptions to withhold information from the public increased during fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

The agencies cited exemptions at least 466,872 times in budget year 2009, compared with 312,683 times the previous year, the review found.