The FOIA Project will soon extend its tracking model to other agencies, starting with a test application applied to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A grant awarded to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, which hosts the project, by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation will fund the development of an app that lets users upload their own documents and track multiple requests in different agencies, according to a post published by Investigative Reporters and Editors:
[TRAC co-director Susan Long told IRE] the goal of tracking FOIA requests is to determine what responses are like in more detail than the annual reports available at FOIA.gov. For instance, a heavily redacted document that offers no new information would be counted as a partial release rather than a denial.
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)
“We want the transactional data that drives those annual reports,” Long said. “What is the basis for what they are saying no to? Do they sometimes grant fees? Are charges different? Are delays different for different kinds of requests? There are a ton of routine requests, but how long does it take to publish requests of real public interest?”
With a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, TRAC has been developing a test application using FOIA logs from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Eventually, the app will track a number of agencies, and will rely on user feedback to determine which agencies to include first. The site also offers the ability for users to upload their own documents.
“We’re trying to build not a complaint center, but something that is documented so people can think ‘there is a systematic problem’ and either document it or disprove it.”
The FOIA Project determined at the end of Obama’s first term that his administration fielded more complaints over unfilled FOIA requests than there were in George W. Bush’s second term.