In the midst of all the scandals “The Most Transparent Administration in History” is delivering, the people at the White House announced new rules for fulfilling Freedom of Information Act requests. Â They’ve officially exempted the administrativeÂ office.
The White House on Tuesday will announce new rules exempting an administrative office from subjection to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which allows citizens to obtain government documents from federal agencies.
In a Federal Register notice scheduled to publish Tuesday morning, the action to exempt the Office of Administration is listed as a final rule, which means there will be no opportunity for public comment. It formalizes a longstanding policy for the office that was upheld in multiple courts.
In practice, this exemption has been in place since the Bush 43 Administration and has survived court challenges from various interested parties requesting millions of documents not necessarily related to specific issues. Â It covers the Executive Office including the Chief of Staff, Office of Management and Budget, and Council of Economic Advisors. Â What makes this move fascinating to those who regularly sue the federal government on FOIA grounds is that it happened during Sunshine Week, the time when access to government documents by law is celebrated, and watchdog groups press their missions with the people.
Â â€œItâ€™s a little tone deaf to do this on Sunshine Week, even if itâ€™s an administrative housecleaning,â€ Sunshine in Government coordinator Rick Blum told USA Today.
That would be one of the bigger understatements of the year. Â This is not a new rule, exactly, but not the best of times to be announcing it.