Archives for February, 2012

Suit seeks to force agencies to give FOIA time estimates

Posted: Feb. 21, 2012 | Tags: FOIA, Freedom of Information, New York Times, truth-out.org, Wikileaks

The folks at truth-out.org have filed suit against the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Department and several other federal agencies to force them to give the organization estimated dates for completing Freedom of Information Act requests.

The suit is based on the 2007 amendments to FOIA that required agencies to provide, among other things, “an estimated date on which the agency will complete action” on FOIA requests. Despite the clear statement in the law, some agencies don’t tell requesters when to expect results.

In a blog post explaining the suit, Jason Leopold reports that the FBI has refused ...

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EPA, Commerce take lead in developing "FOIA Portal"

Posted: Feb. 16, 2012 | Tags: FOIA, Freedom of Information, Office of Government Information Services, OGIS, open government

A buzz is growing in the federal Freedom of Information community about a new $1.3 million “FOIA Portal” under development and slated for launch this fall. Thursday we got a chance to look under the hood a bit, as part of a group organized by the Office of Government of Information Services.

The system’s design and development is being led by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce Department, and so far those are the only two agencies that have committed to implementing it. OGIS, housed in the National Archives, also is a partner in the portal project ...

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Seven cabinet departments late filing FOIA reports

Posted: Feb. 13, 2012 | Tags: FOIA, Freedom of Information, Justice Department

Well, it’s time to see how federal agencies are doing in terms of filing their annual Freedom of Information Act reports. The reports, covering activity for the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, are supposed to be finished by Feb. 1.

Agencies apparently treat that deadline as seriously as they treat other FOIA deadlines, which is to say, not very. By yesterday afternoon, only eight of 15 Cabinet-level agencies had posted their reports online.

The reports show such things as how many requests the agency received, how many it processed, how the backlog changed, how many requests were ...

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Recent Posts

No, government is not too open

March 13-19 was Sunshine Week — a nationwide celebration of access to public information. Across the country, the week was marked by panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom-of-information resources. One of those was an event at the University of Missouri in which Charles Lewis, the Workshop's executive editor, argued that government has not become too transparent.

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.


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