Groups Recommend Changes FOIA Litigation Data Report

OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Center for Effective Government and others in welcoming the decision by the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make data from the 2012 FOIA Litigation and Compliance Report available in a machine-readable form. As the letter notes, making the data more available will help the public better analyze and understand how agencies are carrying out their obligations under the FOIA, and DOJ’s litigation stance. The letter also makes suggestions for improving the release of similar data in the future.

Additionally, we joined with our friends at CREW and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to bring some serious errors in the report’s data to OIP’s attention. The type of errors discovered in the report were particularly unsettling because the released data misrepresents whether the settlement included attorney’s fees and costs, a metric that allows DOJ and the public to monitor the number of cases where the agency’s position lacked merit, and litigation should not have been necessary. OIP has assured us that they are addressing the errors in the current data and are considering how to put in place quality checks to make sure future releases are more accurate.

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