Since 1996, federal agencies have been required to make certain records available online or in another magnetic, optical or other electronic media, including frequently requested records that are of general public interest or are likely to be the subject of repeated requests. In practice, however, agencies have struggled to fulfill this requirement. Still, POGO has continued to press agencies to make the government more open, including urging the President's transition team to make all information requested under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) promptly available online. But again, in practice, POGO and other groups have criticized the Obama administration for following the letter, but not the spirit of open government initiatives.
But we wanted to highlight a laudable example of how agencies should treat FOIA. Recently Winslow Wheeler at the Center for Defense Information (CDI) requested and released monthly reports from the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) on Lockheed Martin's production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. As he notes, the reports revealed:
- "The F-35 assembly line at Forth Worth, Texas is
being cannibalized for parts to support flight testing. This may be the
first time an assembly line has been cannibalized for parts."
- "The continuing and
sometimes deteriorating nature of the delays at Lockheed-Martin’s (L-M)
Fort Worth plant refutes the L-M contention that things are getting
better, and that the F-35 program learned from the past and with new
design techniques is avoiding the kinds of problems experienced by
“legacy” aircraft programs."
- "The cause, nature and implications of the “stand-down” mentioned in the November report could well be important, but are unreported by the press and are a matter looking for explanation."
And within days of CDI's release, DCMA has posted the 25 monthly reports in their Electronic Reading Room. We hope the Pentagon will follow DCMA's example and also post the documents on the Department of Defense's (DoD) Open Government Webpage, which seems like a natural home for these kinds of documents.
-- Mandy Smithberger