The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has managed to replace the broken fax machine on which it receives requests for public information after a staffer claimed the agency needed up to six weeks to buy a new one. The repair comes after a blog brought attention to the excuse that the agency could not purchase a new fax machine "until the start of the new fiscal year (at the earliest)," making it harder for reporters and taxpayers to get government documents.
MuckRock, a service that enables anyone to easily submit public records requests under the press-friendly Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), discovered that the agency's fax number was working again today. "While the office remains impervious to emailed FOIA requests, we the people now have the option of faxing our FOIAs to OSD once again," MuckRock says.
"We the people now have the option of faxing our FOIAs to OSD once again."
FOIA was passed in order to guarantee that public records are accessible to the press and members of the public, and has been used to break major stories about government abuse, corruption, and misuse of public funds. Even so, agencies don't always comply with it — or they'll put up roadblocks. Requests can be submitted to OSD via mail, which is slow, or through the web portal, which is poorly designed. Fortunately for muckrakers, the outdated yet efficient method is back in service.