SLA Joins Coalition Questioning White House Policy on Document Release

What are “White House equities,” and what is their role in requiring federal agencies to receive White House approval before releasing certain documents? If you don’t know, you’re not alone—but SLA and more than 20 other organizations want answers to both questions.

On September 29, a coalition of library, information, and government watchdog groups (including SLA) sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama asking him to withdraw or, at the very least, clarify the intent of a 2009 memorandum written by then-White House Counsel Gregory Craig. The memo requires federal agencies to consult with the counsel’s office before releasing any documents that may implicate “White House equities.”

“There are two significant reasons why the Craig Memorandum should be reviewed,” the letter states. “First, agencies have been provided with no guidance as to what constitutes ‘White House Equities,’ and that term is undefined by statute, rulemaking or other guidance. Second, the use of White House Equities has, in limited circumstances, caused delay inconsistent with the statutory guidelines of FOIA [the Freedom of Information Act] and interfered with Congressional oversight.”

For more information, read the letter or visit OpenTheGovernment.org.

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