It’s that time again — we’re now accepting nominations for the Foilies, the annual “anti-awards” program for government agencies that make access to information harder than it needs to be, often in equal parts maddeningly and inadvertently hilarious ways (redacting names from news headlines?).
The winners of the lighthearted look at a serious matter will be announced during Sunshine Week (March 14–20, 2021), when the transparency community comes together to raise awareness of the importance of open government. We also partner with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia to publish The Foilies in local print newspapers around the country.
For this, the seventh iteration of the contest, the EFF and MuckRock are partnering to solicit, vet, and judge submissions, but folks from across the transparency community — journalists, researchers, local and international gadflies, and more — are encouraged to submit both their own run-ins of opaque intransigence or items that have been reported on elsewhere. We’ll be accepting nominations until January 8, but the sooner you submit the better!
We’re looking for examples at all levels of government, including state, local, and national, and while we’re primarily focused on U.S. incidents we welcome submissions about global phenomenon, such as last year’s winner of The Queen of All FOIA Denials award.
For more information on how to nominate an agency, please see our standard guidelines below.
Who Can Win?
The Foilies are not awarded to people who filed FOIA requests. These are not a type of recognition anyone should actually covet. There’s no physical trophy or other tangible award, just a virtual distinction of demerit issued to government agencies and public officials (plus the odd rock star) who snubbed their nose at transparency. If you filed a FOIA request with the Ministry of Silly Walks for a list of grant recipients, and a civil servant in a bowler hat told you to take a ludicrous hike, then the ministry itself would be eligible for the Foilies.
What Are the Categories?
For the most part, we do not determine the categories in advance. Rather, we look at the nominations we receive, winnow them down to the most outrageous, then come up with fitting tributes, such as the “Most Expensive FOIA Fee Estimate” and “Sue the Messenger Award.” That said, there are a few things we’re looking for in particular, such as extremely long processing times and surreal redactions.
Who Can Nominate?
Anyone, regardless of whether you were involved in the issue or just happened to read about it on Twitter. Send as many nominations as you like!
All nominations must have had some event happen during calendar year 2020. For example, you can nominate something related to a FOIA request filed in 1994 if you finally received a rejection in 2020.
All nominations must be received by January 8, 2021.
How to Submit a Nomination
Click here to submit your nominations. You can nominate multiple entries by just returning to that page as many times as needed. Each entry should include the following information:
Category: One-line suggested award title. We reserve the right to ignore or alter your suggestion.
Description: Succinct explanation of the public records issue and why it deserves recognition.
Links/References: Include any links to stories, records, photos, or other information that will help us better understand the issue.
Email address: Include a way for us to reach you with further questions. This information will remain confidential.
If we short-list your nomination, we may be in touch to request more information.
Header art via EFF and licensed under CC BY 3.0 US