OPEN GOVERNMENT — Jennifer LaFleur of ProPublica, writing in the  Columbia Journalism Review, reports that as one of the most secretive presidential administrations in history gets ready to close up shop, it's closing up records as well. Over the past few months, some federal agencies have issued rules that would eliminate public disclosure of information—or, in some cases, make it more difficult for requesters to get information. Among a number of examples, La Fleur notes:

On December 9, the Department of Energy proposed a rule that would eliminate the agency’s “public interest balancing test” in determining whether to release information to the public. That test allowed the agency to release documents that would otherwise be exempt from disclosure if, in their opinion, releasing them would serve the public interest. According to the agency’s summary of the rule, the test imposed “an additional burden on DOE.” The agency also increased the photocopying fee paid by FOIA requesters to twenty cents per page. The agency currently charges five cents for copies of paper documents and ten cents per page for printouts of microfilm.
    (Getting in a final rule before the Obama administration takes over would be a stretch. DOE is accepting public comments on the proposed rule until January 8. But the agency might be able to put a final rule in place before FOIA guidance is issued by the new U.S. Attorney General.)