After another week of processing and patience, we’re taking a look at the progress - and lack thereof - being made by our remaining FOIA March Madness 2018 contenders.
As it turns out, the 32 remaining teams, for the most part, have not gotten much further in their efforts to provide us with this year’s ask: emails mentioning talking points from the agency’s Office of Public Affairs and from the agency as a whole.
We went into the competition knowing we had set them all up for a bit of an ordeal. Some federal agencies have multi-tiered Public Affairs offices and the agency as a whole can have thousands or tens of thousands of employees; searching through each of their email accounts for a particular phrase (or four) can be burdensome and slow. But for some - and for those, there’s a clear advantage in this competition - searching through millions of emails across all employee accounts is comparatively a breeze.
The disparity in process is part of what we wanted to highlight with this year’s event. Even agencies that can’t feasibly flip through that much material can still advance in our competition by working with us to narrow the request and understand the problems keeping them from bringing their A game.
So this time around, we won’t be advancing any team, and next week we’ll be moving contenders straight to the finals. There’s a lot of room to catch up with this sort of an all-over by-week. Good luck getting to the Elite Eight!
Image by Lawrence Jackson via the Obama White House Archives