Growing Old With FOIA

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is 40 years old, "is plagued by chronic backlogs, unjustified rejections and inconsistent responses, according to interviews with open government advocates and lawmakers and a new study by the National Security Archive," reports the Austin American-Statesman. The oldest outstanding FOIA request is from law professor William Aceves who, sixteen years ago, requested information on a defense program that monitors international waterways. In a separate review of state-based Freedom of information laws, Associated Press reporter Robert Tanner found that following September 11, 2001, "legislatures have passed more than 1,000 laws changing access to information, approving more than twice as many measures that restrict information as laws that open government books." Meanwhile, Australia's government ombudsman has found that the Australian FOI Act "works well in facilitating public access to personal information but not so well in providing access to policy-related information."