National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

OpenGov voices: innovative investigations — how a watchdog group uses the FOIA process to push the limits of transparency

Opinion of Cause of Action from Sunlight Foundation:

By law, Americans have the right to access a broad array of information from the federal government through FOIA requests. However, roadblocks do arise when federal agencies put up obstacles and this is where Cause of Action’s combination of litigation with investigation can really sink teeth into the transparency debate.

One of our recent investigations took us through one such roadblock put up by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA is in possession of the documents that contributed to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s (FCIC) report on the 2008 financial crisis and therefore, we argue, is subject to FOIA. In October 2011, Cause of Action submitted a FOIA request to NARA for “all documents, including email communications, memoranda, draft reports and other relevant information and/or data contained in the records transfer of Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission documents stored at NARA.”