The White House attorney
believes the downward trend in FOIA request correlates more and more
government data being released on Data.gov, a website set up by the
Obama administration to release the new data. There are now more than
169,000 sets of government data available on the website.
“We think the results are showing that, with a decrease of more than 40,000 requests in the last fiscal year,” Eisen said. He also believes the number of requests will continue to decrease as the administration further instills a culture of transparency throughout the federal government.
One reason for the FOIA requests’ decrease is that government officials have been choosing to release the information most frequently requested under the law when complying with the administration’s transparency initiative.
“There is an affirmative effort to get frequently FOIA-ed information out there,” Eisen said. “We do try to put out databases that are news you can use.”
As well as considering what information to release by seeing what was most requested under FOIA, Chopra said all federal agencies reached out to the public via the web to see what they wanted released too.
“All of them engaged the public in an open way to see what they wanted,” Chopra said. “There is an ongoing process of public participation in the identification of and deployment of these data sets.”