Defense Department Can't Afford To Buy A Fax Machine To Receive FOIA Requests
from the priorities dept
Apparently the Sequester is hitting the Defense Department so hard that it can't even afford a new fax machine to handle Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Now, you might wonder why a fax machine is needed, but since the US government has generally made it as difficult as possible to file FOIA requests, faxing is often the best way. MuckRock, a service that helps others (including us!) file FOIA requests, has noted that the Defense Department (which it also notes has a $31.8 billion -- with a b -- budget for "maintenance and operations") has a broken fax machine, and can't promise a new one will be set up "until the start of the new fiscal year."
That's not particularly comforting. Basically, the DOD is telling MuckRock to stop sending it faxes for a few months (at least). Remember that, by (often ignored) law, the DOD is required to respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days. Yet, here, the DOD is saying sit tight and wait for a few months because it can't buy a new fax machine. MuckRock even points out that, these days, you can just get an online faxing service which would probably be a lot more efficient in the first place. But, of course, that's not how the government works.