What is the logic of an information law which:
• makes available a State Department Memorandum rationalizing the President's use of troops overseas without congressional consent, but has thus far failed to make available World War II documents concerning allegedly repatriated Russian soldiers,
• which makes available a Federal Trade Commission staff study on auto warranties but leaves numerous other advisory studies difficult to locate and their status unclear,
• breaks loose a key Federal Reserve Board vote but has thus far left the votes and minutes of other multi-member agencies difficult to locate?
The answer is that the logic is not in the law itself, but in the kind of pressure put upon the bureaucracy to follow it. The Freedom of Information Act which became effective July 4, 1967 is not self enforcing. It depends upon the initiative and energy of those who want government information, giving them a tool with which to prod an unwilling bureaucracy. To date, this prodding has come principally from the press and interested business organizations; meaning that the information made available has been oriented toward the single news story, often an expose, or the isolated regulatory decision. This is certainly a valuable use of the Act but the pressure of interested citizens is not sufficient to force the government to make available the scope of information and indexing needed for scholarly research.
The organized scholarly community, while traditionally supporting the principle of free access to government information, has made no systematic effort to either assess the newly available information or to pry loose information presently withheld.