Freedom of Information Act: Update on Federal Agencies' Use of Exemption Statutes, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the GAO (Government Accountability Office) Highlights: "FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requires federal agencies to provide the public with access to government records and information based on the principles of openness and accountability in government. FOIA also specifies nine exemptions agencies may cite to withhold information when responding to FOIA requests. These exemptions cover information related to national defense or foreign policy; internal agency personnel rules and practices; certain nondisclosure provisions in other statutes; trade secrets and commercial information; privileged interagency or intra-agency memorandums; personal privacy; law enforcement; the regulation of financial institutions; and geological information. FOIA's exemption 3, also referred to as the (b)(3) exemption, specifically authorizes withholding information on the basis of another federal statute that prohibits disclosure of that information. GAO was asked to review federal agency use of (b)(3) exemptions. This report describes the (b)(3) exemption statutes cited by agencies and the frequency of their use from fiscal years 2010 through 2019, and key statistics related to the use of (b)(3) exemption statutes from fiscal years 2017 through 2019. GAO reviewed FOIA data reported by agencies for fiscal years 2010 through 2019; updated the catalog of (b)(3) statutes GAO reported in June 2018 to include fiscal years 2017 to 2019; reviewed relevant documentation; and interviewed Department of Justice officials."

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Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/
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