FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit

September 4, 2012 2:14 PM


Some agencies have made progress in reducing their backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests since a 2009 directive, but the logjam has increased at other agencies, according to a watchdog report released Thursday.
Only about half the 16 agencies studied in the Government Accountability Office report (PDF) managed to reduce the number of FOIA exemptions as urged by the Attorney General’s Office, the watchdog said.

March 1, 2012 2:14 PM

From The FOIA Project:

When the Obama administration came to office in January 2009, it promised openness and transparency in government. On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum concerning his administration’s beliefs on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), ordering federal officials to err on the side of openness.

This report considers whether or not a key component of that March 2009 directive which set forth new “defensive standards” for FOIA litigation has been obeyed. Henceforth, the AG’s memorandum stated, the Department of Justice would “defend a denial of a FOIA request only if (1) the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of the statutory exemptions, or (2) disclosure is prohibited by law.

January 5, 2012 2:01 PM


A recent report [] released with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) used data collected annually by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in agencies’ reports on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing. This data is supposed to allow the public to assess the effect of the Obama Administration's FOIA policy on agency practice. Unfortunately, though, [they] were only able to come up with a partial answer to the question of whether or not agencies are following the Administration's policy.

On his first day in office President Obama committed his Administration to creating an "unprecedented level of openness in Government." As part of his effort to open government, President Obama directed agencies that FOIA "should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails." Attorney General Holder echoed these words in his March 2009 memo. The Obama Administration policy is in stark contrast to [the October, 2001] policy under the Bush Administration (PDF), which urged agencies to withhold information in the face of doubt.


Whether or not agencies are following the Administration's policy is not just a matter of interest to a couple of good government organizations: Part of Congress' job is to oversee how agencies are fulfilling their duties under laws like FOIA; journalists, researchers, advocates and any member of the public who is simply interested in knowing what the government knows about something all have an interest in how well agencies respond to their requests for information.

Visit for more and links to the report.

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