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Archive Director Tom Blanton Testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee, Rebuts DOJ’s FOIA “Pinocchios”

March 13, 2013

This morning, National Security Archive Director Tom Blanton testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on “We the People: Fulfilling the Promise of Open Government Five Years After the OPEN Government Act of 2007.” The Committee held the Hearing, spurred by the Archive’s latest Freedom of Information Act Audit, to examine the implementation of the OPEN Government Act and freedom of information issues. Government witnesses were Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy, Department of Justice; and Miriam Nisbet, director of the Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration. The representatives of the Open Government community were Sean Moulton Director, Open Government Policy, Center For Effective Government, Kevin M. Goldberg, American Society of News Editors and the Sunshine in Government Initiative, and National Security Archive Director, Tom Blanton.

Archive Director Tom Blanton shows the Senate Judiciary Committee just how outdated many agency FOIA regs are during his testimony.

Archive Director Tom Blanton shows the Senate Judiciary Committee just how outdated many agency FOIA regs are during his testimony.  Click here to watch.

We are providing the webcast of the Hearing for your Sunshine Week viewing pleasure. Be sure to watch Melanie Pustay describe her rosy outlook on the state of FOIA at 55:21.  The senators’ blistering questioning of her occurs at 1:07:00. Blanton rebuts her “Pinocchios” at 1:48:50. For Mr. Blanton’s more detailed rebuttal of the DOJ’s assessment of the state-of-FOIA, read his incisive written testimony, which includes our “top ten” suggestions for “best practice” FOIA regulations.

  1. March 14, 2013 3:41 pm

    Happy Sunshine Week!

    To imply that an agency is not complying with the OPEN Government Act of 2007 or the Attorney General’s FOIA policy because regulations are not up to date is a bit disingenuous. As Melanie Pustay accurately pointed out, the OPEN Government Act and the AG Memo did not require agency regulation promulgation in order to take effect. The Federal Courts hold us accountable to the requirements of the Act no matter if they are incorporated into agency regulations or not. Rest assured that the OPEN Government Act and the AG’s memo have been implemented within the DoD. A DoD issuance, DoD FOIA Directive DoDD 5400.07 (, was changed in 2009 to reflect the Attorney General’s FOIA policy. In the DoD, a Directive implements policy guidance concerning a statutory requirement while a regulation provides procedural guidance. Additionally, several memoranda were sent to the DoD FOIA officers directing them to comply with the OPEN Government Act and advising them on how to interact with OGIS. Those memoranda, dated December 3, 2008, and July 20, 2010, are at So, it is incorrect for the Archive to state that the DoD is not in compliance, and the same is probably true for other federal agencies.

    Jim Hogan
    Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office


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