“With agencies increasingly using an array of exemptions to deny access to information, we want to help requesters fight back. We’re launching a project to track every public records exemption in all 50 states – and provide the information needed to successfully overcome times when information is improperly denied. The power of administrative appeals is undeniable: At the federal level, over 40 percent of appeals resulted in rejections being overturned last year, according to FOIA.gov data. But the process is too complicated and weighted in the agencies’ favor – while they see hundreds or thousands of requests, a requester may only file a handfull. So for each type of exemption or rejection, including the use of delays or fees, we’ll collect the information needed to help requesters keep public information public:
- A description of the rejection.
- The legal basis for the rejection, including any laws or policies it’s based on.
- Examples of when it properly and improperly applied.
- Data on how often we’ve seen the exemption or rejection used, as well as how often we’ve seen it appeal.
- Sample, tested language that anyone can use to appeal the rejections, as well as other strategies to work around denials of access.
- It’s an ambitious project: Exemptions are hidden away throughout every state’s laws. But the right to know is a right worth fighting for…”