Paying Too Much for FOIA

A new article from InfoVegan looks at the costs of the Freedom of Information Act and how those costs will only continue to rise if and other open government sites go dark: “FOIA is one of those transparency things that sounds like a good idea, but in the end turns out to be kind of stupid. In 1974 when the law was put together, the House Committee on Government Operations said that FOIA’s cost should not exceed 100,000/yr — that’s about $450,000 in today’s dollars. Talk about gross underestimation… In 2010, we spent nearly a half billion taxpayer dollars* spent on processing FOIA requests. Since 2008, we’ve added an extra 50 million dollars to our FOIA costs.”

The article continues, “Why then do budget sensitive Republicans in Congress propose to cut the Electronic Government Fund which powers things like and at the same time that Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS launches an FOIA initiative called Wikicountability bolstering FOIA requests. Wouldn’t the more fiscally responsible thing be to push all branches of government to create more policies like the White House Visitors Logs. If you’re looking to save taxpayer dollars, try mandating a Public Online Information Act, not cutting the services that are creating additional transparency. Government open data not only helps save taxpayers money, it helps create more jobs — jobs for small businesses like the 30 or so at BrightScope, or the thousands that are fueled by weather data. The Republicans, on this issue, seem to want to create additional taxpayer cost and hurt small businesses built on this data.”

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ yomanimus