National Journalist Groups Support the Same FOI Transparency For Feds That We Are Recommending for NYC

In March 2012, six of the largest federal open government watchdogs and journalism organizations wrote to the Office of Management and Budget in support of the then-nascent FOIA Online portal. Today, FOIA Online is a national best practice and model for this legislation. The portal has tracked tens of thousands of FOIA requests over the last three years. The American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, two journalism advocacy groups, signed this letter, which read in part:

“The FOIA portal offers the best hope for improving the administration’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and affording the public the broadest access to government documents.”

In June 2014, a nationwide coalition of over 50 good government groups signed on to a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee supporting the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 (FOIA-2014). This bill, which passed the House unanimously, would codify the existing FOIA Portal, which is currently a voluntary pilot program spearheaded by the EPA. In addition, FOIA-2014 expands the annual FOIA reporting requirements for federal agencies and requires they publish raw data underlying the reports. 

Compared to the existing Federal FOIA regime, OpenFOIL’s proposed reporting requirements are modest. Nonetheless, prominent national journalism groups once again signed on. The American Society of News Editors, Freedom of the Press Foundation, National Security Archive, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Society of Professional Journalists all support legislation creating a FOIA portal, and requiring agencies provide raw data (not just reports) about FOIA.

OpenFOIL Reporting Requirements Compared to Federal FOIA

Reporting Requirements FOIA (1967) E-FOIA (1996) Open Gov Act (2007) F-OIA 2014 (Proposed) NYS FOIL (1974) NYC Open FOIL
Number of Determinations No Yes Continued Continued No Yes
Number of Appeals No Yes Continued Continued No No
Exceptions Used (Number) No Yes Continued Continued No No
Pending Requests No Yes Continued Continued No Yes
Processed Requests No Yes Continued Continued No Yes
Median Processing Time No Yes Continued Continued No No
Average Processing Time No No Yes Continued No Yes
Range of Processing Time No No Yes Continued No No
20 Day Response Intervals No No Yes Continued No No
Fees Collected No Yes Continued Continued No No
FTE Staff Time No Yes Continued Continued No No
Median/Average Grant No No Yes Continued No No
Median/Average Appeal No No Yes Continued No No
10 Oldest Requests No No Yes Continued No No
10 Oldest Appeals No No Yes Continued No No
Expedited Process Requests No No Yes Continued No No
Number of Dispute Resolutions No No No Yes No No
Number of Proactive Uploads No No No Yes No No
Number of Paid Late Requests No No No Yes No No
Raw Statistical Data No No No Yes No Yes