Four key major media organizations that participate in the weekly lockups for release of new unemployment and other economic data were told today by the Department of Labor that it is putting on hold its plan to force them to use government computers and software.
In an email to news executives at Bloomberg, AP, Thomson/Reuters, and Down-Jones, Carl Fillichio said the July 6 starting date in his controversial order issued last month is being revised. The new date will be announced next week. A copy of the email was obtained by The Washington Examiner:
"Sean, as a courtesy, I am copying AP, Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters (as well as Daniel) on this email, so that everybody is looped in at the same time.
"Per my commitment to Chairman Issa's request, we are going to move the effective date on changes to the lock up. Everyone will be getting an updated schedule by early next week, if not sooner.
"As a result, the only news organizations that must permanently remove their equipment from the lock up room by June 15 are those that have not been re-credentialed. That does not apply to any of you.
"However, all media organizations that have been re-credentialed (and that does include all of you) will need to disconnect your machines on June 15 and move your equipment to the center of the lock up room (tables will be provided). You will be able to reconnect your equipment on or about Thursday, June 21. The department will be doing some telephone wiring work in the room at this time, and we do not want to disrupt/handle your equipment.
"Jennifer Kaplan from my shop will be in touch with time windows.
"Please also be aware that the three Unemployment Insurance Claims lock ups previously scheduled to take place at the Commerce Department - on June 21, June 28 and July 5 - will still be at that location.
"Let me know if this satisfies your legal concerns.
"I am glad to know that you agree that progress is being made, and I look forward to working with you."
The delay is needed to give negotiations between the government and the media organizations additional time to iron out a compromise that will assure the security of the data while preserving the editorial independence of the journalists participating in the lockups.
Fillichio, who is senior communications advisor to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and runs the department's public affairs operations, agreed to the delay suggested earlier this week during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa of California.
Another factor in Fillichio's decision to hold off was likely the fact that some of the media organizations vowed to take DOL to court and seek an injunction stopping implementation of the new lockup procedure.
More negotiations are scheduled for early next week, but knowledgeable sources said the the media groups would seek the injunction if it appears the talks won't result in a satisfactory outcome.