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Tag Archive: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

First FOIA Response on SF-LLLs

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A brief, puzzling update (below the fold) on my attempts to get my hands on actual forms SF-LLL, which government contractors or grantees must file when they make a payment or agree to pay "any lobbying entity for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with a covered Federal action," with the latter phrase referring to any contract, grant, cooperative agreement, loan, loan guarantee or loan insurance worth more than $100,000. A reminder: The hope here is that if we can get enough forms SF-LLL, we can start to distinguish between those contracts awarded through the normal procurement process, and those awarded after lobbyists went outside the normal procurement process to influence members of Congress or administration officials. If we can get a complete set of all forms SF-LLL filed with the government, we might be able to build a database from that information, linking it with or incorporating it into sites like FedSpending.org, which tracks government contracts and spending, or OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political influence.

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Legislative Transparency Proposed in Tennessee

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Bill Hobbs reports that a pair of lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature (one in the Senate, one in the House) have introduced a bill to make subcommittees, committees, and the two houses of the legislature itself subject to the state's version of the Freedom of Information Act, known as the Open Records Act. Hobbs notes that you can track the progress of the legislation here. So which member of the House, and which member of the Senate, will introduce similar legislation at the federal level? Congress, of course, is currently exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

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Looking into Lobbying Federal Contracts and Grants

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This story, about the problems that the Coast Guard and its contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems (a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin), are having with their Deepwater program, got me thinking--and about something other than this report on the program by the Inspector General of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Under federal law (it's title 31 U.S.C. section 1352, for those of you keeping score at home), contractors and subcontractors, for-profits and non-profits, universities and state and local governments that lobby the federal government for contracts, grants, cooperative guarantees, loans, loan guarantees or loan insurance have to file a form, called SF-LLL, when they lobby the federal government for that contract, grant, cooperative guarantee, and so on. The instructions that come with the form say, "The filing of a form is required for each payment or agreement to make payment to any lobbying entity for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress,an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with a covered Federal action."

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Whimsical questions about FOIA

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Is there any website that collects FOIA requests made by agencies and individuals? Could the Government make public the FOIA requests made on its website? Public and searchable? I'm fumbling for the right question, but there's a large sense in which it seems that much of FOIA should not be necessary in an internet age, as so much of what is sought should be findable by default - online, searchable - and in the meantime I'd love to see a catalog of what is requested.

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