Policy and News Updates for October 28, 2005

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Policy Updates







[new] New proposed agency would be exempt from FOIA
S. 1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005 blanketly exempts a new agency created by the legislation, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), from the Freedom of Information Act.
Status: Introduced on October 17 and reported out of Committee on October 24
Sources: S.1873; Secrecy News 10/26; POGO blog


[new] Whistleblower protections addressed by Congress
In a letter to House Government Reform Committee Chair Tom Davis (R.-Va.), a coalition of 20 good-government organizations praised his committee for H.R. 1317, giving jury trial rights to government whistleblowers. H.R. 1317 will amend the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) to give federal government workers access to courts. The hearing planned for November 8th in the Government Reform National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee has been postponed..
Status: H.R. 1317 passed through committee, 34-1.
Sources: Learn more about H.R. 1317 from the Government Accountability Project; National Security Whistleblower Coalition; Visit the Government Reform National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee website.


[updated] Hurricane Katrina response
With complete federal contract information hard to come by, several members of Congress are trying to increase public oversight into money spent on Hurricane Katrina. Bills include the Hurricane Katrina Accountability and Clean Contracting Bill (H.R. 3838), introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) ‘Truth in Contracting’ Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2863), adopted by the Senate. Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Okla.) plans to hold hearings to determine how the government can better track its spending. After President Bush restored minimum wage laws for hurricane recovery, Reps. Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) backed down from their threat to push a House resolution, H.Res. 488, calling for disclosure of hurricane-related federal contracts.
Status: H.R. 3838: Referred to House Subcommittee; H.R.2863: Adopted by the Senate
Sources: H.R. 3838; H.Res. 488; Lautenberg’s press release and text of H.R.2863; See an OMB Watch list of toxic chemical sites in New Orleans; POGO’s list of Hurricane Katrina related government oversight legislation
Action: Demand that EPA respond to Hurricane Katrina with more openness. EPA should conduct a transparent investigation of environmental hazards and implement a monitoring system.


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Read the latest version of Secrecy News. Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists. Secrecy News is archived here.