House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz thinks there's a bad case of grade inflation when federal agencies assess their Freedom of Information Act programs.
Near the end of a marathon, two-day hearing on FOIA that included brutal reviews of federal agencies by journalists and activists, Chaffetz was scathing when describing a positive 2014 self-assessment by the Justice Department.
The department, in the government-wide assessment, credited itself for taking steps to apply the "presumption of openness," to ensure an effective system for responding to requests, to improve timeliness of response, and more.
"Are you kidding me? The Department of Justice gives themselves a five out of five on proactive disclosure? You really think anybody in the world believes the Department of Justice is ... at the top of their game?" Chaffetz asked Melanie Anne Pustay, who heads the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy.
When she defended Justice's performance, Chaffetz replied: "You live in la-la-land. You live in a fantasy land because it ain't working." He then broadened his criticism.
"We are at the heart of why I think there is a problem, because you all think you are doing a great job," he said, later noting: "Across the board, most every one of you got great scores, and I just don't buy that."