BESIDES DOMESTIC ESPIONAGE, what else are agencies hiding from the public? According to POLITICO, they’re hiding lobbying records. The paper’s requests for disclosure reports from six different federally-funded offices, including the NSA and FBI, were brusquely dismissed:
Almost all agencies advised POLITICO to file a Freedom of Information Act request — the costly, difficult, backlogged and sometimes expensive process that can take years. The ones that didn’t declined to answer the request entirely. The White House also declined to comment.
How do the contractors who lobby for these agencies get away with this? Firstly, their disclosure forms aren’t the same as the accessible ones filed through Congress. Most lobbyists file the LD-203; government contractors file the piece of paper with a dubious history and an existence “…all but forgotten by journalists, researchers, transparency advocates — and apparently even by federal bureaucrats.”
Secondly, lobbying expenditures can’t be divulged if they’re part of a classified contract (hence the need for a Freedom of Information Act Request).
Should agencies and contractors get away with this seems a more pertinent question. According to National Review:
This incredible lack of transparency is troubling, to say the least, considering how much taxpayer money goes to defense contractors (even after sequestration), the poor performances and cost overruns of some of these companies’ products, and the wasteful spending that goes on this side of government.
In other words, no, they shouldn’t.