CJ Ciaramella @ The Washington Free Beacon:
The number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed against the federal government has increased dramatically under the Obama administration, according to a December study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
A comparison between the last two years of President George W. Bush’s second term and the last two years of President Barack Obama’s first term shows FOIA lawsuits jumped by 28 percent, TRAC reports.
FOIA lawsuits are filed to challenge denials of records requests or the use of exemptions of information by federal agencies.
The number of FOIA lawsuits filed against the State Department rose by 111 percent in those time periods, from 18 to 38. FOIA lawsuits rose by 60 percent at both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, the Department of Justice saw an increase by 50 percent.
Obama pledged to usher in an unprecedented era of transparency and openness in government, but the rise in FOIA lawsuits “adds credence to the criticism of some activists about the Obama Administration’s actual commitment to this goal,” TRAC wrote.
Transparency advocates say federal agencies have largely ignored the executive branch’s directives and memos.
“I think if agencies were updating their regulations and complying with the law better, some of those lawsuits wouldn’t be necessary,” said Patrice McDermott, the executive director of OpenTheGovernment.org, at a conference on government transparency Thursday.
A government-wide audit performed by the National Security Archives found62 of 99 federal agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since Attorney General Eric Holder issued a 2009 memorandum instructing them to do so.