Monday May 27, 2019
Clearinghouse Not Meant to Stay under FoIA Office Control
CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle May 21 clarified the intended temporary nature of placing review of Information Clearinghouse releases under the FoIA system. The step was meant to contain and mitigate the problem of information disclosures outside of 6(b), she explained.
She was responding to a statement by Commissioner Elliot Kaye that he thought maintaining that status would be an "egregious error." He said, "I think that enough time has passed. We should take it out from under FoIA." He worried that the ongoing inspector general review might not address undoing the change or that the setup would become entrenched.
Kaye also noted the questionable legality due to FoIA restrictions against creating documents or information, which is what the Clearinghouse does. He additionally asserted, "I don’t…understand – if it's under the FoIA office but it's not being run through FoIA – what that even means."
"There's never been an intention that the Clearinghouse would remain under the FoIA office…It was done as an interim step…to make sure…appropriate eyes were doing the review. But I think it's important to note: That's not the way it's going to be, and we will determine what the appropriate course is. But I think it's prudent – very prudent – to wait for the inspector general to give us his findings…and make it clear what the next step should be."
Kaye raised his concern following discussion of possibly bringing in an agency outsider to look into the disclosure problem. That proposal failed a vote (see related story).
The agency revealed the change in about month ago (PSL, 5/2/19) although it was in place for a few weeks by then.