USPS cited for non-compliance with Freedom of Information Act

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 “no responsive records.” It said it had never received the Emanuel-Bauer memo asking for progress to be shown in response to President Obama’s first-day call for openness.

“Perhaps the Postal Service lost that memo in the mail,” commented Nate Jones, the Archive’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.  

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. ”

via Glass Half Full – The Knight Open Government Survey 2011.

  • Supervisor

    I remember in one training session labor told us to make sure we deleted emails on a regular basis and also cleaned out our deleted folder on a regular basis….gotta luv this organization.

  • brian

    Sorry, voice, but I think you’re wrong. The reason you’re told to delete your emails, and clean out your deleted folder regularly, IS to eliminate the possibility of any of those emails becoming the subject of an FOIA request. You do have a limited amount of storage space, but that’s to force you to eliminate stuff, not the other way around. File storage is cheap these days- the USPS could easily store all of your emails forever (as Yahoo and Gmail do for free), but then all of those emails would have to be available for FOIA requests.

  • Rob

    Perhaps the Obama administration did not think the USPS is a federal agency since it does not use tax paer dollars.

  • IT Joe

    Don’t you know that Nothing is ever deleted. There is always a copy of it somewhere. IT has copies of every email that was ever sent. There is a computer program that it used to search and retrieve anything.

  • barf

    The USPS corporate mindset is so criminal it makes me sick.


    Talking criminal? What do you think should be done about a Postmaster who insists that you (a supervisor in the facility that she heads), come in while you are on vacation and awaiting retirement. “Come in just for a short while in order to shred certain employees’ medical documentation.” Hiding ongoing situations.