Governmental transparency and the National Performance Review: Implementing the Freedom of Information Act
This dissertation analyzes the impacts of federal results-oriented administrative reforms on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Transparency of government, which promotes democratic-accountability, is embodied in FOIA. The National Performance Review (NPR) supported initiatives that affected FOIA implementation in a variety of ways. These initiatives include (1) a push for performance management that at times comes at the expense of nonmission-based values, including governmental transparency; (2) an increased attention to customers and, possibly, FOIA requestors; (3) the encouragement of privatizing functions, which subsequently are not covered under FOIA; and (4) the empowerment of employees to make decisions within the implementation phase of the policy process. The unintended and unforeseen consequences of these initiatives on FOIA activities are highlighted. The research draws on a number of different data sources including key performance indicators pulled from federal agencies' Annual FOIA Reports submitted to Congress over a twenty-five year period (1976--2001); interviews of federal FOIA officers and FOIA requestors; a content analysis of historical documents; and a survey of the access community. Relying on a triangulation of data and methods, the project identifies how FOIA activities have adapted to management initiatives. This study is important to our understanding of how mission-based management reforms can affect fundamental democratic values and governmental functions such as freedom of information.