In a report on federal agencies’ compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the US Postal Service was singled out for “egregious” failure to comply with the Obama administration’s instructions to take concrete steps towards improving openness. To test the government’s performance, the National Security Archive at George Washington University filed FOIA requests with 90 federal agencies, asking them to provide copies of all documents related to steps they had taken in response to the administration’s orders. The USPS claimed it had never received any such instructions.
In one egregious case, the U.S. Postal Service stated it had â€œno responsive records.â€ It said it had never received the Emanuel-Bauer memo asking for progress to be shown in response to President Obamaâ€™s first-day call for openness.
â€œPerhaps the Postal Service lost that memo in the mail,â€ commented Nate Jones, the Archiveâ€™s FOIA coordinator who managed the Knight Survey requests.
Despite claiming not to have received the memos, the USPS claimed in it’s response that it had taken “steps” to address the very issues that the memo identified.Â Â
But the report notes that “our methodology identified the USPS as responding with ‘no records.’ In the US federal bureaucracy, if there is no paper trail, it is likely that nothing substantial happened. ”