Friday FOIA (Lack of) Fun

Some time ago, I wrote about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) improvement plan, which laid out a roadmap to make all DHS components FOIA handling more user-friendly.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is, of course, not a part of DHS, so they aren’t affected by this plan. It’s painfully clear, as I think I’ve mentioned once or twice before, that they desperately need one. Let’s look at a few examples…

The Minneapolis Field Office is pretty remarkable; they actually have a FOIA page on their website. Alas, the address they give to send FOIA requests to is outdated. Still, they’re doing better than the Chicago Field Office, who simply link to the main FBI FOIA page, and provide absolutely zero instructions regarding where to send FOIA requests. If you think Chicago have dropped the ball, have a gander at the New York Field Office, who don’t provide a single hint that the Freedom of Information Act even exists. Neither do Detroit, Boston, Omaha, Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Juan, or most of the other field offices. To make things even more fun, most of the field offices – like Knoxville – don’t even include a fax number, so your only option to make a FOIA request to them is to use snail-mail. Another good example is the Los Angeles Field Office – if you wanted to request their files, if any, on the late George Carlin – which required you to submit an obituary, or other proof of death – you’d have to do it via snail mail, since you can’t fax them and they don’t accept email attachments. (To be super annoying, they hide their mailing address – WTF!? – on yet another page.)

It pains me to have to suggest that another branch of government – any branch of government – take lessons from DHS, but they could definitely teach the FBI a few hundred things about maintaining an user-friendly FOIA program. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law – DHS’ overhaul was prompted by an Executive Order from President Bush, which applies to all branches of the government. DHS got with the program; the various branches of the military got with the program. Even the NSA and CIA got with the program. The FBI, however, didn’t even pretend to make any improvements…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on June 27th, 2008| Comments Off on Friday FOIA (Lack of) Fun

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.