Open government advocates object to Bush funding shift

A Bush administration maneuver to shift funding of the new Office of Government Information Services at the National Archive and Records Administration to the Office of Information and Privacy at the Department of Justice has incensed more than 40 organizations advocating open government.

In a letter to leaders of the House of Representatives Feb. 6, the organizations objected to the administration’s plan because the funds would be given to the Justice Department, the same government entity that in the past has failed to improve adherence to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements.

In December, President George W. Bush signed the OPEN Government Act, which created the Office of Government Services at the National Archives and Records Administration.

“This was a bipartisan bill that passed both chambers, and the directive to the administration is clear,” said Society of Professional Journalists (SBJ) president Clint Brewer. “The last place a new office designed to force accountability on FOIA issues needs to be is in one of the very agencies subject to FOIA requests. It would be a clear conflict of interest to put the new Office of Government Information Services under the Department of Justice.”

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