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December 26, 2016

Will Trump Play Nice If Journalists Launch FOIA Offensive Against His Administration?
By Paul Fletcher

The FOIA Project, from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, has completed a new study that identifies who has been filing federal FOIA lawsuits over the past 15 years.. There are numerous state FOI laws, but the group focused on federal filings since 2001. They produced a searchable database of 369 cases called the “News Media List.” It provides the name of the plaintiff who filed the suit, the agency, a brief description of the materials requested and the history of the case. The list includes a number of repeat filers seeking government information. Leading the pack: The New York Times, which had 35 lawsuits listed. Vice Media’s Leopold, who previously worked for Al-Jazeera America and used FOIA lawsuits there as well, was second with 32 suits. Here's an interesting scenario: Trump, his team and his appointees will be running the government once they take office. Therefore they will have the responsibility for implementing the reforms Congress mandated in this year’s FOIA Improvement Act -- building and paying for the common portal, insuring that the electronic documents requirement comes to pass and making agencies responsive under the new, now statutory, presumption of openness. Keep an eye on how all that works out. And if agencies continue to stonewall or delay information, look for the FOIA Project to have a whole new series of FOIA suits to report this time next year.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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