Title

FOI in transition: A comparative analysis of the Freedom of Information Act performance between the Obama and Trump administrations

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2020

Abstract

FoIA is an important marker of transparency and the flow of government information in a democracy. Stakeholders such as the news media have been critical of how government policies affect access to that information. In this context, this study systematically analyzed the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) performances between the Obama and the Trump administrations regarding the efficiency and disposition of requests, appeals processing and success, staff workload, processing fees, and the use of exemptions. Data indicate that the Trump administration underperformed in the processing of requests, the release of records, and it has accelerated the use of exemptions to deny requests. There was also no marked improvement over the previous administration in performance among other parameters. The study affirms prior results that indicate that FoIA performance is explained better by legacy, and some trends transcend administrations. The study also addresses the methodological problems with FoIA data and suggests remedies for scholars.

Publication Title

Government Information Quarterly

DOI

10.1016/j.giq.2019.101443

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