Third Annual “Awards” Recognize the Worst in Government Transparency

Government transparency shouldn’t be a battle, but too often when the public wants to see what their officials are up to they’re met with resistance, hostility, obfuscation, and even retaliation.

For the third year in a row, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is soliciting submissions for “The Foilies,” our tongue-in-cheek awards for government officials who stand in the way of your right to review what they’re up to.

EFF will announce the awards during Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2017.  In the meantime, we need your nominations.

Who Can Win?

The Foilies are not awarded to people who filed FOIA requests. These are not a type of recognition anyone actually should covet. There’s no physical trophy or other tangible award, just a virtual distinction of demerit issued to government agencies and public officials (plus the odd rock star) who snubbed their nose at transparency. If you filed a FOIA request with the Ministry of Silly Walks for a list of grant recipients, and a civil servant in a bowler hat told you to take a ludicrous hike, then the ministry itself would be eligible for the Foilies. 

What Are the Categories?

For the most part, we do not determine the categories in advance. Rather, we look at the nominations we receive, winnow them down to the most outrageous, then come up with fitting tributes, such as the “Most Expensive FOIA Fee Estimate” and “Sue the Messenger Award.”  That said, there are a few things we’re looking for in particular, such as extremely long processing times and surreal redactions.

Who Can Nominate 

Anyone, regardless of whether you were involved in the issue or just happened to read about it on Twitter. Send as many nominations as you like! 


All nominations must have had some event happen during calendar year 2016. For example, you can nominate something related to a FOIA request filed in 1994 if you finally received a rejection in 2016.


All nominations must be received by Jan. 31, 2017.

How to Submit a Nomination

Send nominations to with “FOILIES 2016 NOMINATION” in the subject line. You can nominate multiple entries in a single email, just make sure to enumerate the nominations so we can easily separate them. Please try to include the following information: 

Category: One-line suggested award title

Description: Succinct explanation of the public records issue and why it deserves recognition. 

Links: Include any links to stories, records, or other information that will help us better understand the issue. 

Contact details: Include a way for us to reach you with further questions. This information will remain confidential.

If we short-list your nomination, we’ll be in touch to request more information.

The Foilies from Previous Years

The Foilies 2016: Recognizing the Worst Government Responses to Public Records Requests

The Foilies 2015: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4