by Mandy Smithberger
As part of Sunshine Week, the Department of Justice has released FOIA.gov, a new website with "detailed information about agencies’ FOIA activities, including important steps agencies around the government have taken to improve their FOIA architecture." POGO is still exploring and playing with the databases and information on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests across the government, but one thing we've already discovered is that the Interior Department's Inspector General (DOI IG) has one of the worst backlogs of the Interior Department.
These numbers ring pretty true to POGO's experience with FOIA requests in the Interior Department--we also can't help but wonder how these numbers would look if Inspectors General could put all of their reports online, redacting whatever information cannot be released to the public. Just something to think about as Sunshine Week and the current budget environment gives us to reason to consider how government oversight, transparency, and efficiency can come together for the best public outcomes.
Has anyone else played with FOIA.gov? What information are you finding helping, or not? In the above chart, for example, it might be nice to know in one chart how the backlog compares to the number of requests received, and what role, if any, staffing plays in responsiveness.
The White House announced the launch of FOIA.gov in a blog posted on Monday. We were also excited to see the White House announce that agencies will soon be proactively posting directories on their Open Government pages so that members of the public know who to contact with questions concerning government records and data. In addition, the White House revealed that agencies will be posting online the statutorily-mandated reports they submit to Congress.
POGO's Angela Canterbury will be testifying about FOIA reforms and other open government measures at a hearing tomorrow before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee entitled "The Freedom of Information Act: Crowd-Sourcing Government Oversight."
Mandy Smithberger is a POGO Investigator.