White House Owes Responses to 30 We the People Petitions

The unanswered petitions that have crossed the threshold for an official reply have been waiting nearly 10 months on average.

National Journal
Joseph Marks, Nextgov
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Joseph Marks, Nextgov
Jan. 3, 2014, 9:12 a.m.

As the White House’s We the People pe­ti­tion site enters its fourth cal­en­dar year, many pe­ti­tion­ers are still wait­ing for the re­sponse they were prom­ised.

There are cur­rently 30 We the People pe­ti­tions that have crossed the threshold for an of­fi­cial White House reply but not yet got­ten one, in­clud­ing eight that have been wait­ing more than one year. Those un­answered pe­ti­tions have been wait­ing nearly 10 months on av­er­age for a reply, ac­cord­ing to a Nex­t­gov ana­lys­is.

One of those pe­ti­tions, seek­ing to re­quire la­beling of all ge­net­ic­ally mod­i­fied foods, has been wait­ing since just one month after We the People launched On Sept. 23, 2011.

On that launch day Pres­id­ent Obama de­scribed We the People as a “a dir­ect line to the White House on the is­sues and con­cerns that mat­ter most” and prom­ised White House of­fi­cials would re­spond to any pe­ti­tion that re­ceived 5,000 sig­na­tures or more. That threshold grew to 25,000 and then 100,000 sig­na­tures as the site be­came more pop­u­lar.

Of­fi­cials have pos­ted 134 re­sponses Since We the People launched, of­ten re­spond­ing to mul­tiple pe­ti­tions at once. The site has re­ceived mixed re­views from pe­ti­tion­ers. Some have com­plained that the White House posts pro forma re­sponses and rarely seems to take pe­ti­tions in­to con­sid­er­a­tion when for­mu­lat­ing policy changes. Oth­ers have said they were glad to use We the People as a plat­form to raise aware­ness about an is­sue.

The un­answered pe­ti­tions in­clude one ask­ing the pres­id­ent to fire the U.S. At­tor­ney who led the pro­sec­u­tion of In­ter­net act­iv­ist Aaron Swartz and one to par­don the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency doc­u­ments leak­er Ed­ward Snowden. Swartz com­mit­ted sui­cide be­fore fa­cing tri­al and Snowden has re­ceived tem­por­ary asylum in Rus­sia.

The total num­ber of un­answered pe­ti­tions has dropped since the White House raised the threshold to 100,000 sig­na­tures in Janu­ary 2013 but the av­er­age wait time for un­answered pe­ti­tions has grown sig­ni­fic­antly longer.

Pe­ti­tions that had crossed the threshold but not re­ceived a re­sponse around the time the threshold was raised had been wait­ing about two months on av­er­age.

Among the reas­ons for rais­ing the threshold, the White House cited a de­sire to provide time­li­er and high­er qual­ity pe­ti­tion re­sponses.

Of the 30 un­answered pe­ti­tions cur­rently pos­ted to We the People, 11 were pos­ted after the threshold was raised to 100,000 sig­na­tures and 19 were pos­ted be­fore the threshold was raised to that level.

Un­answered pe­ti­tions pos­ted after the threshold hike have been wait­ing 103 days for a re­sponse on av­er­age.

Un­answered pe­ti­tions pos­ted be­fore and after the threshold hike have been wait­ing 298 days, on av­er­age, for a re­sponse. That’s es­sen­tially un­changed from an Au­gust 2013 re­view by Eli Dourado, a tech­no­logy re­search fel­low at George Ma­son Uni­versity’s Mer­catus Cen­ter. Dourado’s re­view found 29 un­answered pe­ti­tions that had been wait­ing 306 days on av­er­age.

More from Nex­t­gov, our sis­ter site:

NSA Leak Spawns Fake Spy­ware Site

Com­ing in 2014: Face­book Across Gov­ern­ment

Every­one Needs a Cy­ber Text­book

What We're Following See More »
SAYS HIS DEATH STEMMED FROM A FISTFIGHT
Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed in Embassy
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."

Source:
ROGER STONE IN THE CROSSHAIRS?
Mueller Looking into Ties Between WikiLeaks, Conservative Groups
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."

Source:
PROBING COLLUSION AND OBSTRUCTION
Mueller To Release Key Findings After Midterms
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.

Source:
PASSED ON SO-CALLED "SAR" REPORTS
FinCen Official Charged with Leaking Info on Manafort, Gates
2 days ago
THE DETAILS
"A senior official working for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet. Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law."
Source:
FIRST CHARGE FOR MIDTERMS
DOJ Charges Russian For Meddling In 2018 Midterms
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login