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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Study from BGA and NFOIC...

States failing FOI responsiveness

Better Government Association (BGA) and National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) give 38 out of 50 states "F" grade in overall responses to FOI requests.

If citizens can't take action to enforce their right of access shy of filing suit, what good are FOI laws?

When it comes to responsiveness measures, not much good at all.

BGA and the NFOIC have united to review the recourse afforded citizens in the public records laws of all 50 states, and the conclusions make for some relentlessly depressing reading.

Some findings include:

Citizens often have their requests denied and the only way they can gain access to records is by appealing the agency's denial.

When it comes time to appeal, in the vast majority of states a citizen has little or no recourse, save for the courts. Receiving even a low score of 66% puts a state in the top ten of the rankings.

Take a look at the numbers for your state, and then for other states, and you'll come to one inescapable conclusion: state FOI laws are in desperate need of reform.

The BGA report might simply confirm what you already knew about FOI in your state, but it should serve as a catalyst for change.

The overview—as as well as criteria and results—are online and linked from here.

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