Data Availability, Information Quality, Accountability...

Please open Cobell E-mail data base to FOIA and other uses

Under the Cobell Indian Trust litigation over the past many years, I believe that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and perhaps other Interior agencies established a centralized database or repository where all E-mails are stored. This storage reportedly has cost many millions of public dollars to maintain over the years. However, I understand that some requests to search this database in connection with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other requests were denied, apparently based on the rationale that it would be too difficult or expensive to comply. If this is accurate, this rationale seems very arrogant, illogical, and wasteful. The public paid to establish and maintain this huge centralized E-mail database, but yet the public cannot access it to locate relevant E-mails under FOIA or on subjects of importance? In addition, if Cobell related E-mails could presumably be readily located within this database, why can't E-mails on other subjects be similarly located? For example, I am aware of a FOIA request relating to, among other things, potential chronic trespass livestock grazing on BLM administered lands within critical habitat of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise. I believe that a search of this Cobell E-mail database would likely locate many relevant and responsive documents to fulfill this FOIA request. And such located documents should be compared to what the relevant BLM office provides from its own computers. This comparison would identify any discrepancies, and ensure that all responsive documents are in fact provided to the FOIA requester. Please consider this suggestion to improve government transparency and accountability, ensure full FOIA compliance, and give the public a much more meaningful return on their past Cobell database investment. Thank you very much for your consideration.



11 votes
Idea No. 30