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EPA Administrator Promises Transparency, Engagement

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In an internal memorandum to all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pronounced a commitment to transparency and issued a variety of orders to agency employees. Echoing President Obama's statement in support of transparency, calling "Information maintained by the Federal Government a national asset," Jackson lays out a policy that would increase engagement with the public, mandate a proactive disclosure policy for documents available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and stated that she would disclose her daily meeting schedule, encouraging other top EPA officials to do the same too.

One of the key priorities in the document is a statement that the EPA will use all means of communication possible to engage the public in the rule-making process.

"Public participation in Agency rulemaking proceedings may take a variety of forms, including public hearings and meetings, workshops, forums, focus groups, surveys, roundtables, Federal Register notice-and-comment procedures, advisory committee meetings, informal meetings with interested parties, internet-based dialogues, and other opportunities for informal dialogue, consistent with applicable legal requirements.  I encourage our staff to be creative and innovative in the tools we use to engage the public in our decision-making," Jackson states in the memorandum.

Employees are also urged to include all public comments in the rule-making docket and summaries of any oral communications that may impact the rule-making process.

The FOIA policy follows on the heels of the March 19 memo issued by Attorney General Eric Holder stating a policy of presumption of disclosure and, when possible, proactive release of documents. The policy puts the Holder memo's mandate into place.