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As Questions Mount on Interior Handling of FOIA Requests, Grijalva and Cummings Lead Letter to Appropriators Pushing for More DOI FOIA Staff

Apr 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) today sent a letter with Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.), chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), chair of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment, to top House appropriators urging a funding increase sufficient to hire at least 10 new full-time employees dedicated to FOIA response.

The full letter, addressed to House Appropriations Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member David Joyce (R-Ohio), is available at http://bit.ly/2Dd7iLf.

As the authors note, DOI has experienced at least a 30 percent increase in new FOIA requests since the beginning of the Trump administration, which includes a 210 percent increase in new FOIA requests to the Office of the Secretary since fiscal year 2016. More than 100 FOIA cases are now in litigation due to agency non-response, and the FOIA office is suffering from staff attrition.

To avoid political interference, the authors note that the new hires “should be supervised, to the extent it complies with FOIA, by the Department’s Deputy Chief FOIA Office, a career Senior Executive Service position in accordance with the current structure of DOI’s FOIA program.”

116th Congress