Sorry, folks, the Forest Service has decided that you can no longer access its employees’ phone numbers or email addresses. In a taking-out-the-trash-timed move during the Holidays, the Forest Service deleted its on-line employee directory from the web. The former last-name searchable directory reported location, phone and email addresses for each Forest Service worker plus private contractors with FS email addresses. About 40,000 folks altogether.
How do I know how many? Years ago, FSEEE sent the FS a Freedom of Information Act request for this directory. “No such document exists,” was the response. Hmm . . . of course the data exist, but the FS said that FOIA does not obligate it to push the computer’s “print” command.
Dead end? Not quite. Turns out that anyone with internet access could push the button on-line and cause the agency’s computer to download the data. That was fun. Eventually, however, the Forest Service’s immune system caught on to our harvesting and blocked further access with those little American flag icons that overlaid each employee’s email address, turning simple-to-read HTML code into indecipherable garbage.
End-of-the-line? Not quite. One nice thing about the FS’s loathing of USDA oversight is that there’s almost no communication between the agency and its departmental masters. The USDA’s website had the same data, bundled up with its other agencies. So for several years we pointed our little automated harvesting machine to usda.gov.
Those gravy days of public accessibility are now dead. When you click on the”Employee Search” link, you get only the office phone directory, which, in case you missed it on the FS’s home page, has a duplicate link below called “Office Directory.”