FOIA MIAPosted on February 3, 2003
(Washington, D.C.) The Animal Legal Defense Fund is calling on
Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to give the public
electronic access to USDA inspection reports. Amendments made to the
Freedom of Information Act in 1996 require USDA to make the reports
available electronically. Yet though the reports were once available on
USDA’s website, they were removed last spring without explanation. ALDF
has sent Veneman a letter asking that she comply with federal law and
direct her department to make the reports available online once again.
The reports in question give citizens a window on the care and
treatment of animals in research labs inspected by USDA. Knowing that
the reports are made public in a timely fashion would give research
facilities added incentive to obey Animal Welfare Act guidelines.
"These reports need to be available pretty much as they come out," says
Wendy Anderson, managing attorney of ALDF’s Washington, D.C.,
litigation office. "If people have to submit written Freedom of
Information Act requests, they’ll probably have to wait years to see
the reports. By then, the reports will be obsolete. So there’s a very
good reason electronic access is mandated by law."
To read ALDF’s letter to Veneman, download it here. (PDF)