Tuesday, July 22, 2008

FOIA News: Bringing the Smithsonian Into The FOIA

Something from The Washington Post - Bill Would End FOIA Shield for Smithsonian:

"The Smithsonian, created by Congress as a federal trust, was exempted from FOIA in two rulings in the mid-1990s. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided FOIA would apply to the Smithsonian only if Congress changed the law to say so explicitly.

Grassley said the legislation marks a major test for the Smithsonian's pledge of transparency and the newly installed secretary, G. Wayne Clough, former president of Georgia Tech. A spokeswoman declined to say what Clough thinks of the proposal.

'He comes at a critical juncture,' Grassley said in a Senate floor speech. 'Will the Smithsonian recover from a series of scandals and regain its sterling reputation? Or will it backslide into bad old habits that could lead to more scandals?'

Grassley noted that the 18 museums and nine research facilities receive 70 percent of their funding from congressional appropriations. 'One of the best tools Congress can give him is a clear, definitive statement . . . that the Smithsonian's business is the people's business.'

The Smithsonian's attorneys have opposed applying FOIA to the institution. Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said, 'The Smithsonian's governance reforms have resulted in greater transparency and accountability, and our FOIA policy is consistent wi"