By Alex Montague
Obama administration struggles to live up to its transparency promise, Post analysis shows
In its first year, the Obama administration vowed an increase in transparency across government, including through the Freedom of Information Act, the proactive release of documents and the establishment of an agency to declassify more than 370 million pages of archived material.
Three years later, new evidence suggests that administration officials have struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington. Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before.
Media organizations and individuals requesting information under the FOIA last year were less likely to receive the material than in 2010 at 10 of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, according to a Washington Post analysis of annual reports of government agencies.
James Ball | The Washington Post | 3rd August 2012
Stress of new curriculum to blame for high teacher absence levels
MORE than a fifth of sick days taken by teachers last year was due to stress, figures have revealed.
Personal stress, work-related stress and mental health issues have forced teachers to take thousands of days off work, accounting for 22 per cent of absences in Scotland.
This has been blamed on pressures teachers are put under by the Curriculum for Excellence project.
The figures, released under Freedom of Information, show psychological issues accounted for 26 per cent of sick days taken by teachers in Glasgow, with 33 per cent in Falkirk, 20 per cent in Edinburgh and 31 per cent in Stirling.
The Daily Record | 4 August
Birmingham City Council wants to charge for Freedom of Information requests
Councils should be allowed to charge to provide information to the public following a dramatic increase in Freedom of Information requests, Birmingham City Council has suggested.
It urged MPs to let it charge £25 for every request it deals with, after complaining that some people make hundreds of requests but don’t pay a penny.
The authority suggested the charging scheme in a submission to a Commons inquiry into the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, which gives the public a legal right to request information from public bodies.
Jonathan Walker | Birmingham Post | 3rd August 2012
Over 750 files released by FBI relating to late US Senator Robert C. Byrd
The FBI released more than 750 pages relating to the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd from its files in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press. The records date to the early 1950s, when the West Virginia Democrat was in the U.S. House. Byrd was serving a record 9th term in the U.S. Senate when he died in June 2010 at age 92. Among the revelations in the released records:
Byrd’s skepticism of civil rights figures extended to Martin Luther King Jr., but he condemned King’s 1968 murder in a telegram to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. “I was not an admirer of Dr. King, but the assassination of anyone is a despicable act,” Byrd wrote, while urging Hoover to investigate whether King was killed as part of a conspiracy.
Tulsa Channel 8 | 4th August 2012