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Annual Report: FOIA Lawsuits Reach Record Highs in FY 2018

The FOIA Project at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits continued to break record highs in FY 2018. According to case-by-case court records, 860 FOIA lawsuits were filed in FY 2018 against government agencies. In addition, the backlog of FOIA suits waiting to be decided rose to 1,204 cases, an all-time high. Compared to an average of 402 FOIA suits per year during the Obama Administration, the rate of filing since President Trump assumed office has more than doubled.  While suits rose during the latter years of the Obama Administration, the 860 suits filed in FY 2018, represent a 67 percent increase over filings during the last full fiscal year of the Obama Administration. Lawsuits filed during FY 2018 showed a repeating pattern: heightened scrutiny of high-profile government officials. Public interest groups, primarily nonprofits and news organizations, led the way in filing a slew of FOIA lawsuits seeking records pertaining to spending by government officials in several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others. Public interest groups represented the full political spectrum, and filed lawsuits to seek documents that probed into practices by government officials from both the left and right. Accompanying this report, has just updated the period covered by the project’s FOIA Lawsuits App. This free user tool allows the public to drill into these numbers to track FOIA litigation trends over time…”

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