New data confirm DOJ’s subpar FOIA performance
A new analysis of FOIA cases filed in the U.S. District Courts reveals that fully 30 percent of all FOIA lawsuits filed last year were brought against the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ also accounted for a similar percentage of the FOIA administrative appeals that were filed by requesters seeking to have the initial decisions by government FOIA officers overturned.
While the DOJ was the agency most often sued in FOIA cases, it received merely 10 percent of all FOIA requests made to all federal agencies. This suggests the DOJ is doing comparatively poorly in satisfying its requesters.
In light of the President’s FOIA Memorandum expressing “a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government” this is an ironic finding, since the DOJ’s Office of Information Policy is responsible for:
… encouraging agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and for ensuring that the President’s FOIA Memorandum and the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines are fully implemented across the government.
The figures behind these results — and much more — can be found in the FOIA Project’s By the Numbers section which tracks the following agency-related information for the two most recently completed fiscal years:
- FOIA Requests: Federal agencies receiving the most FOIA requests
- FOIA Appeals: Federal agencies receiving the most FOIA appeals
- FOIA Lawsuits: Federal agencies against whom the most FOIA lawsuits were filed
- Change in Requests: Federal agencies experiencing the largest growth in the number of FOIA requests
- Change in Appeals: Federal agencies experiencing the largest growth in the number of FOIA appeals
- Change in Lawsuits: Federal agencies experiencing the largest growth in the number of FOIA lawsuits filed
For each of these categories, By the Numbers provides a detailed listing by agency with the rankings, counts and comparative percentages.