In its final year, the Obama administration spent a record amount of money on legal costs defending its refusal to provide federal documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
According to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data, an all-time-high of $36.2 million was spent during Obama’s last year in office on the fight to keep the government’s information from the people. The report also revealed inadequate performance in other categories that measured government transparency.
The Obama administration also surpassed its previous years’ record for the number of times federal employees claimed to citizens, journalists, and others that, despite a thorough search, no files could be found to match those requested.
Additional records were set for the number of outright denials of access to files, refusals to quickly consider requests characterized as especially newsworthy, and the number of people required to pay for records despite their requests that search and copy fees be waived by the government.
The Obama administration initially declined to turn over all or parts of records in more than one-third of FOIA cases, reaching the highest rate in at least six years. When challenged about this practice, the government admitted that it had acted wrongly.