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December 21, 2012

Obama Openness Vow Broken as Disclosure Suits Top Bush
By Danielle Ivory

Lawsuits filed in federal district court to force the government to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests surged under President Barack Obama. The FOIA-related complaints jumped 28 percent to 720 in the last two years of Obama’s first term from 562 in the last two years of President George W. Bush’s second term, according to a study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The analysis marks the first time FOIA lawsuit data has been available in a central, public location, said Susan Long, a Syracuse University statistics professor and co-director of the data-gathering and research organization. “We thought this was a hole that needed to be plugged,” said Long. She leads a team of researchers who check federal district courts across the U.S. daily to see if there is activity on FOIA-related cases. The information is available at foiaproject.org. Long said the records may lead to greater accountability at the Justice Department, which defends agencies in cases over information withheld from FOIA requesters. “A little sunlight might change people’s behavior a bit,” she said. The foiaproject.org website said that “extensive case-by- case analysis” may be required before a full assessment of the dramatic surge in FOIA complaints can be documented.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2012
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