In this week’s FOIA round-up, the Department of the Interior staff emails show employees were interested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “500-page per month” policy, the Associated Press created a new dataset by collecting information from each state to see why people wanted a medical marijuana card, and an Arkansas judge rules that a clerk broke state public-records laws, but cites as extenuating circumstances the clerk was acting on advice that they had received from state judicial authorities.
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Department of the Interior staff emails show employees were interested in FBI’s “gold standard” policy
Internal emails show that Department of the Interior employees looked to the FBI’s FOIA policies as a potential solution to the increase in number of requests. Rachel Spector, an official with Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, wrote to an FBI official seeking information on their procedures in an email stating, “Sorry to be so persistent, but we are scrambling to get our arms around a significant surge in FOIA requests.” Spector also referred to the Bureau’s FOIA program as “the gold standard.”
These emails were obtained through a FOIA request by Earthjustice and shared with The Hill. According to The Hill, the emails show Interior was particularly interested in the FBI’s “500-page per month policy.”
Read the full story on The Hill.
AP collects data from each state to see why people wanted a medical marijuana card
The Associated Press has compiled a comprehensive dataset on medical marijuana registry programs as of April 2019 across the U.S and Puerto Rico - some of the data was collected through public record requests. According to AP, this national dataset did not exist. Through the information gathered, the publication wants to look at why people wanted a medical marijuana card in the first place.
To read more about the methodology and the findings, read the story here.
Judge rules Arkansas clerk broke public-records law, but doesn’t award attorney’s fees
County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that District Clerk Jennifer Jones violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act by refusing to release a set of court records. While Piazza concluded that the public has a right to the information, he decided against awarding attorney’s fees to the plaintiff, citing as extenuating circumstances that Jones was acting on advice that she received from state judicial authorities.
To read more about the ruling and the case, read the story on Arkansas Online.
Oregon’s Public Records Advisory Council has published its first ever public records survey
Earlier this year, Oregon’s Public Records Advisory Council conducted the first-ever survey of the state’s public records law. The results are open to the public. About a hundred public bodies in Oregon are included in this survey. The data includes number of requests received at an agency, the number of requests completed within 15 or 60 days, if fee waivers were granted, and the total approximate fees collected to fulfill public records requests.
The OPRAC’s discussion of the survey results is embedded below.
Image via Wikimedia Commons