Updated 4:22 p.m. The Treasury Department has now fixed the link to March meetings with outside groups concerning implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. A spokesman also just called to thank us for alerting the agency to the missed deadline.
Something curious happened after we contacted the Treasury Department press office Tuesday to inquire why it had missed the April deadline for releasing information about meetings with outside groups around implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law–meetings that often include financial heavyweights such as JPMorgan Chase & Company.
We did not get a response — neither to our initial query nor to a follow up call Wednesday; but, lo and behold, the web page where the information should be available now bears a note that says it was updated May 16. That would be hours after we made our call. Coincidence? Don't pop the champagne corks yet, however. At the time of this posting, the link to the most recent meetings does not work. Click there, and there's simply a message that says: "There are no items to show in this view of the "dfa3_12 list."
That means that curious reporters and others who want to know how often JPMorgan & Chase representatives–or any other outside groups–met with Treasury Department officials in March will have to keep scratching their heads.
The Treasury Department already has a policy of delaying release of information about meetings, posting at the close of each month about the previous month. So the most recent release, which should have been posted at the end of April, should provide information about meetings that took place in March. The agency is due to update the logs again at the end of May.
After passage of the Dodd-Frank financial law, the main federal financial agencies all made a voluntary promise to provide the public with information about which outside groups are meeting with agency officials to discuss implementation of the law. Each of these agencies–the Treasury Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), makes this information available on their websites–although in varying formats, released on different schedules, and not always in an easily searchable format.
The Sunlight Foundation's Dodd-Frank Meetings Logs tracker attempts to gather this information all in one place. However, because the individual agencies do not use a standardized, machine readable format, the tracker for a pariticular agency can break whenever an agency makes a small tweak on the back end of its website. The Sunlight Foundation has contacted the individual agencies to discuss this issue, but so far has not gotten much traction.
- Treasury Department: Information is released monthly, at the end of each month, detailing meetings that occurred the previous month. The agency also states it may, under "limited circumstances…delay the disclosure of particulary sensitive meetings, if disclosing the meetings could cause market speculation or result in substantial harm to the government or financial system." Website is here.
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The Commission gets the best grade for getting information up on its website, posting meetings within days of when they occurred and providing a quick way to see what it is new that day. However, information is not easily searchable and the user must click through to another view to see details about any given meeting. Website is here.
- Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation. Information is released bi-weekly. Agency provides a link where all meeting records can be downloaded into "csv" format that can be viewed in a spreadsheet, helpful when trying to search for particular entities.The web page currently says it was last updated on May 11. Website is here.
- Federal Reserve. Information is released in a "PDF" format under each regulation considered by the agency. A viewer must click on each link to view the information. It is difficult to search for a particular company or organization within this information. It is not clear how often the site is updated. Website is here.
- Securities and Exchange Commission. The Commission gets points for providing information about all ex parte meetings relating to ongoing rulemaking, not just Dodd-Frank information. However, the interface is unwieldy. A user must click on links under particular rulemakings to see the comments and records of meetings with outside groups. It is not clear how often the website is updated. Website is here.