FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: MuckRock is launching a national database of FOIA exemptions

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment


MuckRock is launching a national database of FOIA exemptions

By Joseph Lichtman, NiemanLab, July 14, 2016

In the 2015 fiscal year, the U.S. federal government processed 769,903 Freedom of Information requests. The government fully fulfilled only 22.6 percent of those requests; 44.9 percent of federal FOIA requests were either partially or fully denied. Even though the government denied at least part of more than 345,000 requests, it only received 14,639 administrative appeals.

In an attempt to make the FOIA appeals process easier and help reporters and others understand how and why their requests are being denied, MuckRock is on Thursday launching a project to catalog and explain the exceptions both the federal and state governments are using to deny requests.

When a user files a request through MuckRock that gets rejected, the site will provide context on the rejection, explaining how the exemptions should be properly applied, how other users overcame similar rejections, and sample letters to submit for appeal. It’ll also highlight data on how often each exception is used and how often they’re successfully appealed.

Read more here.