Posted by | January 29, 2012 20:10 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows citizens to request information from the government.  The government doesn’t necessarily have to provide the information (there are a dozen categories of exemptions to FOIA) but it does have to respond to the request within 20 days.  How close does the government get to meeting this requirement?

On Jan. 4, The New York Times received a final response from the Defense Department to a FOIA request made on June 1, 1997. The department sent it by Federal Express, Priority Overnight.

The courts have ruled that government agencies must respond to FOIA requests in 20 days. But The Times’s case was hardly a record; some requests are approaching 20 years old.

This is the kind of thing that destroys faith in government.  I’m not sure what is more appalling, the fact that they took 14 years to respond or that they then wasted taxpayer money by sending the delayed response by Federal Express.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.