Archives for June, 2011

HUD grants FOIA request but now wants the documents back

Posted: June 22, 2011 | Tags: Department of Housing and Urban Development, Freedom of Information, We ARE Marina del Rey

One of President Obama’s first acts after taking office was to issue a remarkably strong affirmation of the Freedom of Information Act.

“The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” the president said. “All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher ...

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iFOIA's new site features tracking

Since 1996 the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has offered a free letter-generating service to provide users with the correct language and structure for FOIA requests. Over the past year the committee looked for ways to expand this tool to better serve reporters. In recognition of the fact that a single investigation can require hundreds of FOIA requests, they sought to make it easier for journalists to track and organize records requests.

“Reporters are always trying to remember where they’ve submitted requests, how much time has passed since they made the request and who they need to follow up with,” said Emily Grannis of the new ifOIA website.

Privacy vs. the public's right to know

Scholars and watchdog groups say the federal government — and the Supreme Court — have slowly expanded privacy rights beyond the guidelines established in FOIA. Supreme Court decisions in five FOIA cases shed light on how the government came to value privacy interests over the public’s right to know.

Freedom of Information Act: Requests and denials climb, backlog slows

The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that government agency records are open to the public. Access can provide insight into such things as how taxpayer money is spent and what correspondence reveals about relationships between Congress and government agencies or between the agencies and private parties. The law permits agencies to deny requests based on nine exemptions. The most frequently cited reason for denying records is privacy. Agencies used the privacy exemptions more than 232,000 times last year or 53 percent of all the reasons for denying information. That is the highest use of privacy exemptions since fiscal year 2002. Our look at the data since 1998 shows that requests are rising again after dropping dramatically during the second Bush administration.


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