Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Info on 900,000 US workers is suddenly secret

In a blow to anyone trying to ferret out corruption and cronyism in the Bush Administration, The Office of Personnel Management has started withholding information on over 40 percent of the civilian workforce (excluding the US Postal Service). This kind of data has been public since 1816. Public Citizen and TRAC filed suit yesterday in District Court in order to force the OPM to release this data in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

If this were about protecting the privacy rights of federal employees, I might be more sympathetic. Hell, I might even have respect if this were about national security. But OPM has made no statement as to why they are holding back these records. Now, I work in the FOIA realm, and I know that no administration likes to be second-guessed. Still, I'm amazed at the diligence of this Administration in suppressing discussion of its (in)competence, whether it's attacking dissenters, co-opting the media, or illegally withholding information. Even if the lawsuit succeeds, the administration will have successfully stalled in releasing the data, thereby making it harder to use personnel records to identify fraud, waste and cronyism.

You can read the full press release and background info on the TRAC website.


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