|(16 Jan 2018)
Since the new administration took office at the end of January 2017, there has been a sharp jump in the number of lawsuits filed by individuals and organizations seeking court orders
to obtain federal government records. Suits brought by the news media and nonprofit advocacy organizations have fueled a significant part of this rise.
Lawsuits this past fiscal year rose an astonishing 26 percent, and are continuing to climb. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) court cases are now up over 70 percent from just five years ago. Court backlogs of pending FOIA litigation have climbed even faster, with nearly 900 cases waiting resolution.
The Department of Justice with 197 FOIA lawsuits - a jump of 33 - was sued the most often, followed by the Department of Homeland Security with 98 suits. The Department of Interior with 68 new FOIA suits filed against it moved up in the rankings from fifth place in FY 2016 to third place in FY 2017.
The agencies experiencing significantly more FOIA lawsuits often were government offices in charge of areas where there was heightened public concern. The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, experienced an unusually large jump, with 25 more lawsuits during FY 2017 than in the previous year.
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