(EMAILWIRE.COM, November 18, 2012 ) Matthews, NC -- It cost $1700 to file a Freedom of Information request from the government last year. A Freedom of Information (FOI) is a request application to receive secret information on different topics from the government. As you can imagine, there are usually thousands of requests per year, but recent figures have shown a severe drop. Ironically, the drop comes at the same time that the government decided to put nearly $40 million more into protecting the information.
This year, the price to file a FOI went up by around 13%, but at the same time, the number of requests fell by 40%. There may be a link between the rising costs and the drop in requests, but either way, the government is losing money. It has been surmised that the reason for the drop in request may be due to three things; the increase in price; the fact that more information is being made public in recent years; or that people were getting discouraged by the intensity in which the government tries to keep secrets secret.
Officials say that the FOI Act is under further review in order to make the process of applying and responding much easier for both parties.
According to the Office of Australian Information Commission, one third of inquiries were turned down in 2011, and with the significant fall in requests this year, the government is looking at a predicament.
The government has 17 different reasons they can use to reject an FOI, and almost everyone of them was used last year. It was reported that nearly half (3850 out of 8027) were turned down due to threats on personal privacy invasion, another 995 were rejected due to law enforcement issues, and four were stopped because of a threat to national security.
An Attorney General Roxon spokesman said that the numbers reported are bogus and that the government is not worried about their spending compared to the alleged reduce in FOI inquiries. The spokesperson has said that as the requests for information have become more complex, the number of employees it takes to respond to the request increases and it takes longer. This means more money has to be put into the system to not only protect information, but also to help people get the information they want. Therefore, the government is not worried about the drop in inquiries because they say the new nature of the requests have made up for any reduction.
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