The Bush Administration is getting quite good at death by budget, knocking off two federal open government programs in the last couple of weeks. Tony Soprano would be impressed.
Late last month, the administration submitted their 2009 budget, where it was revealed they eliminated the key provision of the Open Government Act of 2007 – the ombudsman whose job it is to oversee all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. They pulled it off by moving the office from the National Archives and Records Administration to the Department of Justice where it is doomed to ineffectual exile. The second hit was on EconomicIndicators.gov, an award-winning web site full of current economic data at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The site will be put in mothballs effective March 1st. The administration said it was a budget cutting decision. The Web site has gotten a lot of attention for how easily it allows citizens to access the daily releases of key economic indicators and to cross reference the data among various bureaus and would send out e-mails to registered users whenever new economic data was released. Sure, Think Progress writes, the data will still be available but much harder – much much harder to access. Most of us wouldn’t have the time to go and look at the individual sites and even know where to look for it.
Clearly the administration is trying to throw a veil over the current economic picture. Pretty consistent pattern for them. My father used to say that "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Indeed.
EconomicIndicators.gov is the type of service we should expect and demand from our government.