The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeks public input on “changes that should be made to its regulations to restrict unfettered general public access to critical energy infrastructure information, but still permit those with a need for the information to obtain it in an efficient manner.” The request for public input was published Jan. 16, 2002 by FERC and appeared in the Jan. 23, 2002 Federal Register. Read the press release on FERC's site.
John Graham, administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, today released a “prompt letter” to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to take three steps to improve public access to its information. Graham’s top priority is to have EPA establish an identification number for each facility reporting information to the agency.
Vice President Cheney recently (February 27) unveiled the administration’s plans to harness the Internet to make government more responsive and accessible, focusing mostly on transactions, such as the filing of taxes, while giving little attention to the dissemination of information.
In a ruling that upholds the public’s right to access government information, a D.C. federal district court ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) on February 21 to hand over documents to the Natural Resources Defense Council that relate to the workings of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.
The issue over public access has taken a new urgency after the September 11th terrorist attacks with some -- often including those who opposed public access before September 11 th -- arguing that we should not be providing information that could be used by terrorists to do damage.
On January 3, 2002, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued final "data quality" rules, effective immediately. The rules were published pursuant to a rider on the FY 2001 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-554), which requires OMB to publish guidelines that "provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies." The rider requires agencies to issue their own implementing guidelines that include "administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency."