Record Number of FOIA Lawsuits Filed in 2015

Published on

October 3, 2018



Jan-alfred Aquino

In a report released by The FOIA Project, a record high 498 FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lawsuits were filed in fiscal year 2015. This is a 15% increase from the 421 lawsuits filed in fiscal year 2014.

FOIA lawsuits can be filed if a federal agency fails to respond to public record requests within 20 working days.

The record-high number of FOIA lawsuits is consistent with a trend of increasing numbers of FOIA lawsuits during the Obama administration. 562 FOIA lawsuits were filed in the last two years of the Bush administration, while 919 cases were filed in the previous two years of the Obama administration.

The Obama administration has emphasized transparency of federal records since Obama’s first days in office, announcing ambitious policies regarding FOIA. Thus, the increasing number of FOIA lawsuits, an indicator of administrative failure to provide public information, is a contentious matter for the Obama administration.

According to The FOIA Project, an online initiative for increasing government transparency, the Justice Department is the most frequent target for FOIA lawsuits, numbering 1,239 of 4,999 total filings in the past 15 years. The next most popular agencies for FOIA requests are the FBI (326 filings), the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (154), the Bureau of Prisons (112), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (85).  

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