More public records litigation under Obama than Bush

Miranda Fleschert | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | January 26, 2010

Despite the Obama administration’s directive that agencies presume openness unless the law mandates otherwise, there have been more lawsuits against the government for failing to release federal records during the first year of this administration than during previous years under the Bush administration, The Washington Post reported.

The Post's analysis of electronic court records show there were 319 lawsuits filed since January 2009, compared with 278 and 298 suits filed in 2007 and 2008 under the Bush administration, though the White House disputes these figures, saying Justice Department records indicate a higher number of cases were filed during the Bush administration and some of the court records are mislabeled.

Open records advocate Meredith Fuchs, general counsel at the nonprofit National Security Archives, told the Post that of records request refusals she has taken to court, she has seen a "mixed bag" in the government's responses and "we would like to see a bit more pressure put on agencies that are under-performers on openness."