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as a neutral, objective arbiter between the requestor and the agen- cy, and then at the end of each year say, these are the kinds of problems, in some ways perhaps like your Faster FOIA Commis- sion would work, these are the kinds of problems that we see hap- pening over time and let us work on them. Let us not have Con- gress have to come back every few years and make the adjust- ments. Let us do it ourselves.
The Justice Department has not played that role. The White House has not played that role, and it is useful to have another agency that can play that role.
Senator CORNYN. Mr. Tapscott, I guess we have talked a little bit about the ideological spectrum reflected here. I think we cover the whole spectrum, which is good. I think, as Senator Leahy and I have said time and time again, this is not a Democrat or Repub- lican issue. And I guess, really, I am trying to figure out in my own inarticulate way how to say that the facts are the facts are the facts, and the interpretation that you draw from the facts or per- haps the way you see the world based on those facts may differ and that may be what makes some people conservative, some liberal, some Republican, some Democrat. But what we are talking about is getting access to the facts.
It has been my experience that, from a conservative standpoint, the facts will often reveal abuses, waste. My experience has also been that the facts will often reveal what a good job government officials are doing. And, my experience has been that most people that work in government are good people trying to do their best to live up to their responsibility.
Would you address, in terms of the waste and abuse and the im- portance that you see in having a robust Freedom of Information Act, why it is so important in that area?
Mr. TAPSCOTT. Certainly. Let me preface that by saying, Senator, that I occasionally wear a pink shirt to work and I have noted on occasion that when I have done that, that some of my colleagues at Heritage say something along the lines of, ‘‘He has been talking to Leahy again.’’
[Laughter.] Senator LEAHY. You weren’t supposed to tell anyone. [Laughter.] Mr. TAPSCOTT. I think your point is absolutely right. Government frequently cheats itself of the benefit of people knowing what a good job most government employees do. The fact is, however, with any government as big as the Federal Government or a government the size of the State of Texas or wherever it may be, there will be problems and there will be waste and fraud occurring.
Two examples that come to my mind, which I allude to in my statement, the Sun Sentinel in Florida found through the FOI that in spite of the fact that Hurricane Frances had landed 100 miles north of Miami-Dade County, that residents there had collected about $28 million in Federal reimbursements for things that had been destroyed by this hurricane, like televisions and sofas and things like that. The highest recorded winds in Miami-Dade Coun- ty were 47 miles an hour. We wouldn’t have known about that without the FOI.
09:04 Nov 08, 2005