There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
What does it take to get information from the D.C. government? Apparently nothing short of a lawsuit. In January, Elizabeth Siegel, staff attorney at the nonprofit D.C. Action for Children Today (D.C. ACT) sent letters to eight city agencies requesting budget data on kids programs. Four agencies responded, but the Office of Emergency Shelter, the Income Maintenance Administration, and the Child and Family Services Division balked at requests for such state secrets as: How many children are currently receiving foster care in the District of Columbia? Siegel complained about the rebuffs to the Department of Human Services (DHS), but instead of ordering the agencies to reply, Siegel says, DHS actually reprimanded one of the department heads who had answered her inquiry. So in April, D.C. ACT appealed the denials to the mayor’s office. On Sept. 1, the nonprofit filed suit in Superior Court to force the city to comply with its requests under the Freedom of Information Act. “The whole thing is outrageous,” says Siegel. “It’s just a simple request. All we want is a couple of documents. We didn’t want to sue the government. We want to work with these people to improve government programs.” D.C. Corporation Counsel spokesman Claude Bailey would not comment on the pending case.