The folks at OMB Watch, a Washington group advocating greater government transparency, pointed out a disturbing example of a bigger trend toward greater government secrecy in their newsletter released this afternoon.
The example involves the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to release documents filed by a pesticide manufacturer about the effect of its product on honeybee populations. After the agency failed to respond to a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the National Resources Defense Council sued EPA last month seeking the release of the information on the possible role of the pesticide clothianidin in the death of honeybee colonies that play a key role in U.S. agricultural production.
The bigger trend toward greater secrecy is documented in a report released today by OpenTheGovernment.org that’s called “Secrecy Report Card 2008.”
Among the highlights:
— The government spent $195 classifying documents last year for every $1 spent declassifying other documents.
— In 2007 only 33 percent of federal contract dollars were awarded under competitive bidding, compared to 45 percent in 2000.
— The 2,371 secret surveillance orders approved last year by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court marked the ninth consecutive year of annual increases.
— The number of federal employees authorize to classify documents rose from 4,042 in 2006 to 4,180 in 2007. Even so, that’s less than the more than the 5,661 employees with that authority in 1993.
Here’s a link to the report: