While taking questions during a Google hangout last week, President Obama stated that his administration was the “most transparent administration in history,” and that he could “document that this is the case.” He pointed to the fact that the White House now documents every visitor, and “just about every law that we pass and rule that we implement we put online for everyone to see.”

Interesting words for a President whose administration saw a 28% rise in FOIA lawsuits. Agency FOIA regulations are so outdated that the National Security Archive is saying that they “undermine freedom of Information.”  Bloomberg News found that more than half of the cabinet members’ offices ignored FOIA requests from the international news agency, and had yet to respond 6 months after the initial request.

To the President, publishing ‘just about every law or rule’ may seem transparent enough, but it isn’t good enough for the public—the people affected by those laws and rules that don’t fall into the “just about” category. Just ask the Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors (HARDI), who stood to suffer tremendously from a DOE regulation that skipped several important steps in transparency and instead became a rogue Direct Final Rule.

The President also neglected to mention that while all visitors to the White House become part of the record, White House staff members occasionally meet lobbyists at a Caribou Coffee across the street from their office to avoid being recorded.

Since we last outlined this administration’s failures on transparency, a new list of failures has emerged:

  • The National Archives and Records Administration denied our FOIA request and appeal for documents related to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Our request was made to uncover the causes of the 2008 financial crisis and the lack of openness in government has forced us to file suit for records that should be public.
  • On February 4, the two ranking members on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy regarding “outdated FOIA regulations, exorbitant and possibly illegal fee assessments, FOIA backlogs, the excessive use and abuse of exemptions, and dispute resolution services.” The committee is concerned with the fact that “62 of 92 government agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations” and “31 agencies have regulations more than a decade old.”
  • The White House press corps has become fed up with the lack of access to the President.

According to the Project Vote Smart’s database, prior to last week’s claim, President Obama had not mentioned federal government transparency since August of 2012 when he said, “The Administration’s efforts to continuously add more transparency, accountability, and certainty into the permitting and review process will enable project developers and private investors to more efficiently modernize our nation’s infrastructure.”

Isn’t it time that the President made a commitment to transparency with his actions, instead of just his words?