Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

American secrets, American transparency: Analysis of the Freedom of Information Act as implemented by the US intelligence community
by Ward-Hunt, Robert Cameron, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Denver, 2014, 194; 3633429
Abstract (Summary)

The US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) places citizens' rights to request and discover information in competition with the right of the government to conceal official secrets (Bathory & McWilliams, 1977; Rourke 1957). Simply put, FOI in practice pits secrecy versus transparency, with administrative discretion in the middle. Though FOIA applies to all federal government departments and agencies in the United States, the tension becomes most acute when applied to the most secretive participants in the national security enterprise, the 16 member intelligence community. Secret-keeping can exert psychological and social pressure on organizations (Simmel, 1906; Weber, 1920/2009) that have the potential to impact individual decision making and shape collective norms (Freidman, Landes & Posner, 1991; Keane, 2008; Sandfort, 2000). This effort examines how secrecy impacts transparency initiatives by researching how the US Intelligence Community FOIA programs perform compared to other federal agencies using multivariate analysis of FOIA annual report data in conjunction with an experimental methodology. The research results show that while intelligence agencies release similar information to control agencies, they differ significantly in the how and when that information is provided. In particular, intelligence agencies take longer to respond than peer agencies and offer less information with the response. These findings contribute to theory by leading to a refined model of transparency and contribute to practice by supporting recommendations for policy makers and FOIA program administrators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heikkila, Tanya
Commitee: Gerber, Brian, Jacob, Benoy, Piotrowski, Suzanne
School: University of Colorado at Denver
Department: Public Affairs
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Public administration, Public policy
Keywords: FOIA, Freedom of information, Intelligence community, Secrecy, Transparency
Publication Number: 3633429
ISBN: 978-1-321-13254-0
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