Yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sued the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for flouting the Freedom of Information Act. CEI’s Chris Horner asked OSTP to produce work-related emails that OSTP’s Director, John Holdren, stored in an email account at his former employer, the environmental-pressure group Woods Hole Research Center. OSTP has resisted producing them. (The use of such non-official accounts for agency business frustrates federal open-government laws, and undermines government accountability, since such accounts are generally not searched in response to FOIA or congressional oversight requests seeking work-related communications or agency records. Moreover, the use of email accounts at a former employer that lobbies the federal government gives such pressure groups direct access to and control over public records, including highly sensitive information.)
This is ironic, because OSTP’s Director, soon after taking office, lectured OSTP employees about not conducting official business using private email accounts, and about the need to forward all work-related communications to their agency email account in order to comply with federal record-keeping laws. (See May 10, 2010 Memo from OSTP Director John Holdren to all OSTP staff, Subject: Reminder: Compliance with the Federal Records Act and the President’s Ethics Pledge, at 1, available as Exhibit B to the letter at this link.) Apparently, the longer an official is in office, the less he cares about government transparency and the rule of law.
Meanwhile, OSTP has thumbed its nose at CEI’s request under the Information Quality Act that it correct OSTP Director John Holdren’s notoriously false claim, criticized or disagreed with by climate scientists, that global warming is leading to more severe cold weather, such as last winter’s cold waves. As of the time this blog post was published, OSTP’s “Information Quality Guidelines” website continues to falsely claim that “OSTP has received no information quality correction requests. Any future requests will be posted on this page.” It so claims even though CEI had submitted its most recent information quality request about a month ago (emailing it on April 13, and faxing it on April 14), and that same week, discussed that request by phone with an OSTP employee, who confirmed receipt of CEI’s request, and stated that it would be posted on OSTP’s web site.