Sunlight Foundation: US Senate passes historic endorsement of open government data

Amidst unanswered questions about the future of open government in the United States, the Senate has provided a unanimous endorsement of a set of enduring principles that the Sunlight Foundation has advanced and defended for a decade: that data created using the funds of the people should be available to the people in open formats online, without cost or restriction.

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Deluge of new FOIA requests increases governmentwide backlog

Officials at several agencies told a Senate panel that Freedom of Information Act requests have become unmanageable because of a dramatic increase in the number of requests over the last few years.

The State Department saw its number of requests jump from fewer than 6,000 in fiscal 2008 to nearly 20,000 in fiscal 2014, said Joyce Barr, assistant secretary of the State Department Bureau of Administration, at a May 6 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

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As federal workforce shrinks, FOIA backlog grows

A new report shows a dramatic increase in the federal government's backlog of unanswered Freedom of Information Act requests — and blames it in part on a shrinking federal workforce.

Amid record demand last year for information from federal agencies, the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy found, the backlog grew by 67 percent.

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House panel asking groups for FOIA complaints

The House Oversight Committee asked nearly two dozen public interest groups to share their complaints about the federal government’s compliance with requests for government documents.

The committee is gearing up for a June 3 hearing on the government’s Freedom of Information Act process and is preparing an analysis of what is broken and what needs to be fixed.

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Opinion: Strengthen federal FOIA

When his first term began in 2009, President Barack Obama issued a directive to federal agencies to treat requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with “a presumption of openness.” But his White House counsel followed with a memorandum to agencies saying they should consult the White House anytime a request involved what he called executive-branch “equities.”

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FOIA backlog almost doubles within a year

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that FOIA requests cost the federal government more than $461 billion last year, and $392 billion in 2009. The correct figures are $461 million and $392 million, respectively.

The backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests grew for the second straight year. But the 70 percent spike in unprocessed FOIA requests easily dwarfs any year-to-year increase over the last half decade.

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Federal agencies fail freedom of information test by Syracuse University

When it comes to providing information to the public, 14 out of 21 U.S. government agencies receive poor marks for responding to records requests, according to a study published online Friday by researchers at Syracuse University.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at SU asked for copies of the electronic files the federal agencies use to keep track of requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

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Dust-up over new FOIA exemption in cyber bill

Cybersecurity legislation advancing in Congress could create the first brand-new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act in nearly half a century—a prospect that alarms transparency advocates and some lawmakers.

A bill approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month would add a new tenth exemption to FOIA, covering all "information shared with or provided to the Federal Government" under the new measure.

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