The Government is Now Closed…in More Ways Than One
by Gavin Baker, 10/1/2013
The ludicrous and wasteful government shutdown can now claim another victim: government transparency. Several functions dedicated to providing information to the American public have been declared “non-essential” and are suspended during the lapse in appropriations. You might say that open government is now closed for business.
Here are some of the ways in which the shutdown is making it harder to know what government is doing (or at least, was doing before the shutdown):
- The processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests has reportedly been halted in several agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security Administration, and the National Labor Relations Board. The Office of Government Information Services, the FOIA ombudsman, has also ceased all activities.
- Numerous government websites have been taken offline, including the Library of Congress, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
- Most other federal agency and national government websites may remain up but will not be updated or maintained, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Election Commission.
- Federal whistleblowers’ protectors are off the job. The Office of Special Counsel, which investigates complaints of whistleblower retaliation, has ceased “most of its operations.” The Merit Systems Protection Board, which adjudicates personnel appeals including whistleblower cases, has closed entirely.
- Public information officers are reportedly off the job in agencies including the Office of Personnel Management and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
- Many government social media accounts will not updated, including the White House’s @opengov Twitter account.
The American people deserve an effective and transparent government. This shutdown hurts matters on both counts.