FOIA and Privatization of Government
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The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (FIOA) has been perceived as a way for government to provide transparency and disclosure (within reason) to citizen’s information. This act essentially protects the rights and civil liberties of the public in making information accessible and allowing misinformation regarding individuals to be rectified. However, through government effort to become more transparent with citizens information privatization which is basically the outsourcing of governmental functions such as garbage collection, private schools and ambulance etc. has assisted in the diminishing of the use of FOIA due its use at the executive branch level. This paper will discuss whether private corporation should be subjected to FIOA rules and regulation regarding transparency. Discuss whether there should be a difference between privatization and traditional service. Examine cases of FWAC and lastly explore if legislature can force private corporations to respond to requests for information.
Should private corporations be subject to FOIA requests if they utilize public funding? What are the arguments for and against this?
Private companies should be subjected to the FOIA request if they utilize public funding because functions need to be accessible to the public especially if the funds provided through taxes. According to an article entitled Confusion in the Courts. The author conveys stakeholders views on accessing records through privatization “ These can be fact specific, but I think there’s a commonsensical way of performing whether they’re providing a function of government as opposed to service….a record that reflects what government or public monies are being used for… as opposed to a private board meeting about the running of the company(Confusion in the Court p 12).” The author believes that some functions should be provided under the FOIA and each company issue regarding disclosure will be held on a case by case basic, some information is at is imperative for the public to know should be disclosed.
Should there be differences between privatization of traditional governmental services (law enforcement, the prison system, transportation) and private corporations using public funding for non-traditional services (providing day care to the children of government employees, meals-on-wheels)?
Yes there should be differences between privatization of traditional government services and private corporations using public funding. If the people in the area are willing to pay for additional service that they feel would be beneficial then should. For instance some areas have additional taxing that help provide a better education for children who live in that area. If the tax payers are willing to pay the extra cost for better service they should be allowed to in an article by Guilbert C. Hentschke and Priscilla Wohlstetter entitled K-12 Education in a Broader Privatization Context takes a closer look at both sides of educational privatization:
“Both advocates and opponents of privatization in education tend to approach the issue through an ideological lens. In general, pro-privatization advocates tout its benefits for improving the cost-effectiveness, responsiveness, and innovation of public education services, while anti-privatization advocates lament the probable degradation, unequalizing effects, and even loss of those same public services with the advent of privatization. The debate over privatization benefits from the analytical, empirically guided appraisals presented in this volume and is especially timely (Hentschke 297).”
Although this article is geared towards education it can transcend over the whole scope of why privatization is effect as a whole. The positive attributes such as responsiveness and services geared towards your community proves to out weight the cost of services.
Try to find examples of FWAC in private corporations and non-profits that were not subject to FOIA, but may have been prevented by FOIA based investigations.
Some examples of FWAC in private corporations and non profits that were not subjected to FOIA include Michelle Rhee May who was reportedly involved in a test score scandal. The second example is post 9/11 contractors who were inflating the price of products they claim to have purchased. The last example is the CityTime scandal where contractors were hired to assist clocking work hour and the contracted companies ended up steals millions by inflating cost. In all of these examples since there was no oversight or accountability provided by governmental agencies under the FIOA companies were able to scam, and deceive the general public.
If FOIA/FOIL legislation cannot force private corporations to respond to requests for information, is there anything that could be done by the contracting government agency to mitigate this?
I doubt anything can be done since the private corporations are protected under that act. Unless there is an executive order from the president stating that private corporations must exercise extreme oversight and hold them accountable with stiff fines and penalties for companies deceiving the general public. Until those changes are made legislation do not have much input on protecting themselves against fraud, waste abuse and corruption.
Confusion in the courts. (2007). News Media & the Law, 31(3), 10-12.
Hentschke, G. C., & Wohlstetter, P. (2007). Conclusion-K-12 Education in a Broader Privatization Context. Educational Policy, 21(1), 297-307. doi:10.1177/089590486298642
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