“This administration has a lot to brag about when it comes to our commitment to the FOIA process,” Earnest said on Wednesday, commenting on the White House decision on Tuesday to exempt its Office of Administration from FOIA requests.
The Freedom of Information Act is used by the US public, watchdog groups and journalists to obtain information from the government. But a US Federal Appeals Court ruled in 2009 that the Office of Administration was not subject to FOIA requests.
Earnest noted that for six consecutive years, the Obama administration has responded to 91 percent of the FOIA requests in a way that provided some or all of the requested documentation.
The White House spokesperson stressed there are numerous examples of the administration releasing information even without being asked to do so.
“That's true of the salary and title of everybody who works at the White House. That's true of more than 130,000 sets of data that this administration proactively releases. This is true of the release of the underlying budget information in machine-readable format,” Earnest explained.
The White House is not a US federal agency, and therefore not subject to the FOIA and the Privacy Act of 1974, but the Office of Administration had responded to FOIA requests for nearly three decades.
The Office of Administration provides administrative and business services to the White House.