By SPJ | December 28th, 2011
Two freedom of information watchdogs, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and OpenTheGovernment.org, have released a joint report on compliance with the Freedom of Information Act by 15 major federal agencies, according to a report in the Federal Times. The study compares FOIA compliance data from FY 2008 and FY 2010, the first full fiscal year that President Obama has been in office.
From the introduction to the report:
“The results paint a very mixed picture on the FOIA front, with agencies generally processing more requests more quickly, but also increasing their reliance on the FOIA’s nine exemptions to withhold more information from the public. Our analysis revealed an even more alarming truth: the government’s FOIA data is flawed, making it impossible to assess key areas of progress and casting doubt on its overall reliability.”
Below are some highlights. Read the full report here: Measuring Transparency Under the FOIA: The Real Story Behind the Numbers.
- Exemptions claimed have risen by 33 percent.
- The Justice Department cited more frequent exemptions; the Department of Treasury had the most significant decline in exemptions.
- A majority of agencies had made progress in dealing with the backlog of FOIA requests, from 126,200 at the end of FY 2008 to 64,500 at the end of FY 2010.
- The overall number of requests increased by 11 percent, while compliance with requests has risen 8 percent.