This post is crossposted at MuckRock and was co-written by Michael Morisy.
We are now accepting submissions for The Foilies 2022, the annual project to give tongue-in-cheek awards to the officials and institutions that behave badly—or ridiculously—when served with a request for public records.
Compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and MuckRock, The Foilies run as a cover feature in alternative newsweeklies across the U.S. during Sunshine Week (March 13-19, 2022), through a partnership with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.
In 2021, we saw agencies fight to keep secrets large and small and we saw officials withhold and obfuscate critical information the public needs and is entitled to by law. But even as we’ve kept a running tally of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fumbles, we still miss many of the transparency horror stories out there, especially those that go unreported.
If you’ve seen a story about an agency closing off important access or simply redacting ad absurdum, this is your chance to highlight it and let the world know—and hopefully help push all agencies to be a little more open.
EFF and MuckRock will solicit, vet, and judge submissions, but folks from across the transparency community—journalists, researchers, local and international gadflies, and more—are encouraged to submit both their own run-ins of opaque intransigence or items that have been reported on elsewhere. We’ll be accepting nominations until January 3, so please submit early and often!
We’re looking for examples at all levels of government, including state, local, and national, and while we’re primarily focused on U.S. incidents, we welcome submissions about global phenomenon.
You can also review The Foilies archives, dating back to 2015, for ideas of what we’re looking for this year.
Who Can Win?
The Foilies are not awarded to people who filed FOIA requests. These are not a type of recognition anyone should actually 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 “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 2021. For example, you can nominate something related to a FOIA request filed in 1994 if you finally received a rejection in 2021.
All nominations must be received by January 3, 2022.
How to Submit a Nomination
Click here to submit your nominations. You can nominate multiple entries by just returning to that page as many times as needed. Each entry should include the following information:
Category: One-line suggested award title. We reserve the right to ignore or alter your suggestion.
Description: Succinct explanation of the public records issue and why it deserves recognition.
Links/References: Include any links to stories, records, photos, or other information that will help us better understand the issue.
Email address: Include a way for us to reach you with further questions. This information will remain confidential. If we short-list your nomination, we may be in touch to request more information.