On Tuesday, March 8 OpenTheGovernment.org and 16 other organizations dedicated to openness and accountability filed a comment on a public petition urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to you revoke the its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) “deletions policy.” Public Citizen originally filed the petition in September 2012.
Under the FDA’s current FOIA policy, the agency redacts portions, referred to by them as “minor deletions,” of documents released without giving requesters an immediate right to appeal within the agency. The agency instead requires requesters to make a second request for “reconsideration” of any deletions before being allowed to appeal. If a requester does not do so, the FDA administratively closes the FOIA request without ever making a final determination. The agency does not define “minor deletions,” but in practice it relies on the policy to delete substantial portions – sometimes full pages – of documents.
As described in the comment, we strongly believe the policy violates both the letter and spirit of FOIA and casts serious doubt on the accuracy of FOIA performance data that FDA provides to Congress and the public. Public Citizen’s citizen petition on this matter has been pending for more than five months and alleges a serious violation of the law; it is high time for the agency to respond to it.
Find out more about the petition, and submit your own comment, here.