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Freedom of Information? Not Under the Obama Admin.

03-18-2015

The Obama administration has set a new record for denying or censoring government files under the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA gives citizens the right to access information from the federal government.

Government figures show that for the second consecutive year, the White House censored files or outright denied access to them more often than ever.

The administration took longer to turn over information requested under the act when it provided any.

A record number of times it refused to release newsworthy files and it admitted in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its decision to withhold or censor records was improper under the law.

The government's new figures covered all requests to 100 federal agencies under the act during fiscal 2014. At year's end, the backlog of unanswered requests grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000.

Also, the government didn't respond to requests as well as it has in the past. It responded to 647,142 requests for information last year, a 4 percent decrease over 2013.

The government's responsiveness under the open records law is considered an important way to gauge its transparency.

Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt said his news organization files hundreds of requests for government files and is concerned about the growing lack of openness.

"What we discovered reaffirmed what we have seen all too frequently in recent years. The systems created to give citizens information about their government are badly broken and getting worse all the time," Pruitt wrote in a column.

Earlier this month, the AP sued the State Department under the law to force the release of emails during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state. The administration had failed to turn over the files under requests going back five years.

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