Feds Demand Over Half A Million Dollars To Fulfill A Freedom Of Information Act Request

from the well-that's-one-way-to-avoid-it dept

When President Obama took office, one of the very first things he did was declare that all government agencies should default towards openness in dealing with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. It looks like some are trying to sneak around that a bit. Wired has the story of an FOIA request where the government is demanding $522,886 in order to fulfill the request. This certainly gives off the appearances of pretending to be open while figuring out a nice way to toss up a huge roadblock. Oh, by the way, that single bill would just about equal the entire cost that the US gov’t charged for all FOIA responses in 2008. Why so expensive? That’s not particularly clear. Apparently, the guy filing the request even knows which file cabinets the information he needs is in, so it’s not like the gov’t has to go searching for it…

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Comments on “Feds Demand Over Half A Million Dollars To Fulfill A Freedom Of Information Act Request”

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: So, let's make it a big issue

Enough negative PR should push that request right through, I hope.

… thru to the CIA–and shortly thereafter a man with an icepick and incredibly thorough knowledge of explosives and poisons will drop by this guys house and have a nice little chat with him…

*(For those of you who can’t tell–that’s some satire right there.)

I’m glad this is getting a press time.

Anonymous Coward says:

FOIA says you have to make certain types of documents available. The act also says you can ask a reasonable price for reproduction of said material i.e. copy cost you can not charge for labor in assembling, the person also has the right to go to the facility and look at it there with no charge. Who knows what this person is asking for it could be millions of pages long.

NO! says:

Re: Re: Re:

In the government there’s cost based accounting. That means if they ask for a half mil to fulfill the request, they better spend a half mil to fulfill the request, or they get their whole budget submission cut the next year.

There are also exemptions for information which means it’s not accessible via FOIA. If the information being requested is covered by an exemption, to invalidate the exemption it would have to go through legal review. And even for FOIA info most of the time it still has to go through the release office to be cleared for sensitive data.

This sounds like 4 man years to deal with FOIA requests and that could easily be the case if the information is spread across 30 employees or if the info has an FOIA exemption on it.

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