The Transportation Department's true record on FOIA goals

Friday, March 18, 2011; 9:23 PM

It is ironic that because the Transportation Department was ahead of the curve in addressing the Obama administration's aggressive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) goals, it was inaccurately identified by the National Security Archive and in The Post ["Report on transparency says administration is improving," news story, March 14] as lagging in these efforts.

In response to a 2009 FOIA request from the National Security Archive for records demonstrating the department's implementation of the Obama administration's FOIA policies, we provided records widely distributed throughout the department. We then received a FOIA request in October 2010 from the archive, this time concerning our implementation of a March 2010 memo from the president's chief of staff and counselor.

The memo asked agencies to update their FOIA training and guidance materials to reflect the president's policies and assess whether adequate resources were being devoted to FOIA programs. But DOT had already taken both steps, thus, as we explained to the National Security Archive, we had no records reflecting any direct response to the memo. Nevertheless, DOT was identified as a department that had provided no records reflecting "action on the president's open government order."

We are proud of having taken aggressive steps to meet White House goals, even before the White House memo was received. Our efforts reflect the administration's policy that a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.

Rosalind A. Knapp, Washington

The writer is chief freedom of information officer and deputy general counsel at the Transportation Department.

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