Rep. Issa Wants List Of Everyone Who's Filed FOIA Requests; Increasing Transparency Or Chilling Future Requests?

from the depends-on-how-you-look-at-it dept

Rep. Darrell Issa, the new head of the House Oversight Committee recently requested that all of the various federal agencies give him all sorts of data about everyone who’s sent a Freedom of Information Act Request for the past five years. He claims that this is to review how the agencies respond to such requests, and hopefully make the process work even better. And, in fact, many transparency advocates are hopeful that this will lead to greater transparency, if the somewhat flawed FOIA process can be made better. However, others are viewing the whole exercise in a much more nefarious light, suggesting that Issa is creating chilling effects, by looking closely at who’s filing such requests.

It seems like the latter response may be a bit of an overreaction. The government already has this information and is it really problematic for someone to compile all the info to see who’s filing such requests? There obviously could be some serious concerns if there’s any form of retaliation, but there’s no indication of that happening (or being likely to happen). While it should be watched, if this process really is about getting the government to really be more open, then that sounds like a good idea.

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Comments on “Rep. Issa Wants List Of Everyone Who's Filed FOIA Requests; Increasing Transparency Or Chilling Future Requests?”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Following the 2010 elections, Issa sent a letter to “more than 150 trade associations, companies and think tanks,” including “the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies” asking them “to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target” in the upcoming Congress. Critics have charged that Issa was “embracing regulatory capture.” Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Issa’s letters were tantamount to ?inviting businesses to tell us what they want us to do as opposed to protecting the American people.?

And you’d trust him? You’re crazy.

Vidiot (profile) says:

Irony: Issa as investigator

Excellent longer piece in the New Yorker a few weeks ago on Issa, basically revealing to the rest of us what Californians (those who were paying attention) already knew about him. He’s eluded prosecution on a number of occasions, but claims persecution; fully expect him to cash in on the debt he feels the world owes him, through this and other venial acts of imaginary revenge. Scary.

rebrad (profile) says:


I think this is an overreaction. True there is already data but the data remains with the agency from which the FOIA was made. The priority of most government agencies is CYA (Cover Your Ass). The executive branch has shown that transparency is just a word but never a practice. Someone besides the executive branch has to set standards but without data all that results would be GIGO. Not compiling the data because of fear would only give the offending agencies more reason to avoid processing a FOIA.

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