It’s easy to focus on the challenges of public records, but behind every successful request is somebody who helped fulfill it - often with very few resources, a challenging balance of priorities, and a desire to help share their work with the public.
For the third year in a row, we asked MuckRock users and readers to submit their examples of when agencies went above and beyond in fulfilling public records requests, and we got back some great stories.
We also tallied up how often MuckRock users used the “Thanks” feature to tell an agency that they appreciate their work. Below, three of our favorite stories plus which agencies received the most plaudits for a job well done.
Chicago Public Building Commission goes the extra (magnificent) mile
One reader specifically wanted to single out the PBC’s Bryant Payne, who they said was “Very helpful in explaining things and reaching out.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sets the federal standard
One reader wrote in to praise the entire FOIA staff at NOAA (“I’ve dealt w/ several people there, and they’ve all been great!), and even went so far as to suggest that other agencies take notes on how it’s done:
They always go above and beyond to make sure they understand what I want, get it to me completely and quickly, send me lots of links to related material on their website, and often follow up to make sure I got what I needed. Should be seen as a “best practices” agency that other agencies (including DOJ) study.
Scarborough, Maine’s Town Clerk earns her gold medal for multitasking
We filed with Scarborough as part of our #AmazonHQ2 project, and Yolande (Tody) Justice, who is the town’s Clerk, Public Access Officer, and Registrar of Voters went above and beyond in helping fulfill the request. When we were having difficulties accessing the .pdf of the bid, Justice - who was also running a local election at the time - walked us through the process and made sure we got everything we need. Thanks for all your help, Justice. Hope you can take a well earned break now!
Many jobs well done
Over the past year, MuckRock users have helped released almost half a million pages of government documents. That’s a lot of successful requests. MuckRock users also sent hundreds of “Thank You” messages to dozens of different agencies, ranging from the Air Force to Spokane Police Department. Here’s the top ten agencies that received the most praise in 2017:
|Agency||Number of Thanks|
|Federal Bureau of Investigation||33|
|Chicago Police Department||16|
|Federal Trade Commission||16|
|Boston Police Department||15|
|Federal Communications Commission||12|
|Drug Enforcement Administration||12|
|Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority||8|
|Food and Drug Administration||8|
|Cambridge Police Department||7|
|Environmental Protection Agency||7|
Image via Wikimedia Commons