Quote of the Day - These outside lobbying groups, whether on the right or the left, have become, for me anyway, basically irrelevant. They will probably be offended by that and I am not saying they shouldn't do what they do. I just wish they didn't.
Ever wonder how government employees spend your tax dollar with their time? Now you can find out. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit just ruled that electronic diary records of government employees are "agency records" and must be produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. That's right. You can look at what's on the government's electronic calendars.
Not that you'd want to, but you can. The ruling doesn't apply to Blackberrys, Palm Treos and Pocket PCs of government employees, but you can bet that's the next point of attack.
In this case, the Consumer Federation of America wanted to know if industry representatives were participating in ex-parte meetings with senior officials of the Food and Drug Administration about food-borne bacteria standards while regulations regarding those standards were pending. The Court ordered the FDA to cough up five of six sets of electronic calendar records for the applicable period. The sixth calendar, which the Court did not order the FDA to produce, appeared to be mostly personal, and shared only with that official's secretary.
The case makes interesting reading if you're seeking this type of information. It's certainly not a free-for-all; you can't expect to find out what low-level employees do on a day-to-day basis. Like the CFA, however, if you have a legitimate reason to see the calendars, then you likely can get access through a FOIA request, thanks to this opinion.