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The FOIA Charade: A Brief Case Study

Kelley Green Law Blog , Joseph Green, July 20, 2019: “With the release last month of proposed new EPA regulations on how the agency intends to handle responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), critics have raised concerns about provisions that would give authority to senior management officials (i.e., political appointees) to issue final determinations, including on “whether to release or withhold a record or a portion of a record on the basis of responsiveness or under one or more exemptions under the FOIA, and to issue ‘no records’ responses.”  While these critics question whether political appointees have sufficient knowledge of the scope of potentially responsive records as career staff supposedly do, this assumes that the current status quo is working to produce timely and substantive responses to FOIA requests. In my experience, that is simply not the case.  The status quo is mere kabuki theater, with government officials going through the bureaucratic motions to dismiss FOIA requests without providing the requested data, even in circumstances in which the release of such data is mandated and clear under existing FOIA guidelines…”

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