To learn the scope of what American investigators and reporters want to know out about their government, there’s no better place than MuckRock’s Freedom of Information requests list. Filtering the list by Status==Completed will show requests in which a government agency delivered something besides a rejection, but the full list is worth checking out for story and data ideas, as well as just seeing how freedom of information requests are initiated and handled.
A few of the completed requests that caught my eye. These links show the original request; click on the Files tab to see direct links to the responsive documents:
- California 12525 Data (deaths in local and state custody) - Excel files for 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2014, there were 679 deaths; MuckRock’s blog post here.
- Insane Clown Posse [FBI] - A 121-page scanned, partially-redacted PDF. Read MuckRock’s blog post here.
- 1995-2012 U.S. Recreational Boat Accident Database - a Microsoft Access database.
- 2009 - 2011 FOIA Logs for Office of the Pardon Attorney - partially redacted, OCR’ed PDFs
- FTC Complaints: eHarmony - An XML of 231 partially-redacted complaints about eHarmony from 2010 to December 2013.
- FTC Complaints about OKCupid - An XML of 20 partially-redacted complaints about OKCupid as of October 2013 (are there fewer people unhappy about OKCupid? Or just far more eHarmony users?)
- Adult Homework (Gilbert) - Apparently there was some shitstorm about 4th-graders being assigned homework in which “the student was expected to explain what was happening in a situation where a woman finds another woman’s hair clip under the bed.”
- Arizona Marijuana Citation Data - A scanned PDF of a table of data records from 2011 to October 2014.
- Arlen Specter FBI File - Many scanned and partially redacted PDFs from the FBI File on U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.
- Automatic vehicle location database (Lewis County Sheriff’s Department) - A MySQL database of the past 30 days of AVL data as well as the MySQL schema.