Interesting news on the government transparency front this week, with a Democratic congressman complaining that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is unjustifiably redacting (i.e., censoring) some records related to the BP oil spill response.
“I believe NOAA’s redactions violate the spirit and principle of the accountability you promised,” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wrote President Obama on Tuesday. “These redactions are unacceptable and overreaching.”
Along with the letter posted on his official web site, Grijalva, who chaired a House natural resources subcommittee last year, added dozens of documents, including examples of NOAA records completely or partially blacked out, and email traffic that shows the jousting between his office and Obama appointees over the scope of the redactions.
The White House bounced Federal Times’ request for comment to NOAA, where spokeswoman Shannon Gilson provided a copy of a letter last month in which the agency says that it is delivering about 3,500 pages of records to Congress with “a limited number of redactions” to a small number of documents “to protect pre-decisional and deliberative material.” The letter, from NOAA legislative affairs chief John Gray, adds that the agency is providing other such material unredacted “as a discretionary matter.”
Anyone interested in an even heavier-handed example of administration redaction in action can check out postings on the web site of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. PEER is seeking records from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding development of scientific integrity guidelines. Let’s just say the White House response doesn’t stint on black ink.