Watchdog group slams agencies' lack of EFOIA compliance

OMB Watch, an organization that monitors government regulation, said today that federal agencies have been "overwhelmingly inadequate'' in complying with laws that require them to provide the public with access to electronic information.

The 1996 Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA) said agencies had to provide, by November 1997, online information about how to file FOIA requests, copies of policy decisions, frequently requested materials, and descriptions of their information systems and other document locators. But in a survey of 135 federal EFOIA World Wide Web sites, OMB Watch concluded that as of Jan. 31, no agency had completely complied with the law.

The group blamed insufficient funding, inadequate guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and a failure among agencies "to make public access to government information a priority.'' The report said that in many cases agencies "may have complied'' with the law, but their Web sites were so disorganized that researchers could not find the EFOIA-related information they were looking for.OMB Watch said some agencies, were "exemplary EFOIA implementers,'' including the Defense Department, the Federal Communications Commission, the Small Business Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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