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Justice Dept. responds to Obama's open gov call with reworked FOIA reports

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, December 9 2009

Here, perhaps, is some of that hoped for trickle-down effect we mentioned below. Minutes ago, the Justice Department put out a press release touting the release of information on each department's FOIA program -- with details on the number of requests received by each individual office, the number of open requests, the cost of processing and more -- in machine-readable format. And DOJ is pointedly crediting the White House's Open Government Directive as inspiration:

As part of President Obama’s initiative on Transparency and Open Government, the Department of Justice is setting a transparency precedent for the rest of government by releasing on its Web site, the Department of Justice’s Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Report in a more publicly accessible format.

At the same time, the department is releasing, in this machine-readable format, 19 other agency annual FOIA reports from a sampling of other federal agencies, making a total release of 20 distinct data sets. As a result of the new format, members of the public, including public interest organizations, scholars, and the media, will be able to more easily track FOIA performance.

The department announced today’s initiative in response to the Open Government Directive issued by the White House yesterday.

"Machine-readable," in this case, appears to refer to releasing the FOIA reports in Excel spreadsheet format in addition to publishing them in PDF.