FOIA Files Suggest the Truth is Out There…


…but lots of times just not available through FOIA. The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups that promotes accessibility, accountability and openness in government policies, has launched the FOIA Files, a repository of descriptions of news and investigative articles that relied on the Freedom of Information Act to pry loose information from the government. It’s searchable by agency, date, congressional district and state, and by whether or not the news organization that did the story had to go to court to get the records it sought.

I couldn’t help noticing a fair number of entries like this one:

The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, in a report about the public’s frequent unawareness of the presence of dangerous chemicals in their neighborhoods, found that the Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide even redacted copies of risk management plan summaries for five counties in and around Macon. The newspaper requested the summaries under FOIA and the EPA acknowledged they are public, but refused to release them because they contain information about worst-case scenarios.

Following FOIA seems to be regarded as optional by a lot of government agencies.