Whatever Happened to Public Access to EAJA Fees?

I had thought that Congress has asked for this; one of my colleagues said that that had never passed. Yet, if agencies are true to the President’s transparency order, then it shouldn’t take a bill from Congress to obtain that information.

As the veteran of many FOIAs, I wonder why it couldn’t be FOIA’d unless the information doesn’t exist already. Which would seem odd because any payments should be documented (like a timber sale contract). Maybe it’s the tables adding them up that don’t exist?
Or maybe they’ve been released and I didn’t hear about it?
. if anyone can help me understand this, I would appreciate it.

Also, Steve Wilent posted this Journal of Forestry article by Mortimer and Malmsheimer in a comment today and I felt it worthy of including in a post for those not following that thread. It talks specifically about EAJA and the Forest Service.

Below is the abstract to the paper:

The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) provides for attorneys fees and court costs to be awarded to parties prevailing in litigation against US federal agencies. We examined EAJA awards paid by the US Forest Service from 1999 to 2005, finding more than $6 million awarded to various plaintiffs. Awards were most commonly paid to environmental litigants, although all categories of litigant stakeholders made use of the law. Although it remains uncertain whether EAJA provides an incentive to sue the US Forest Service in any specific instance, because litigation against the US Forest Service generally has a low probability of success, EAJA one-way fee shifting does alter litigation risks among potential plaintiffs. Frequent EAJA claimants often possess considerable financial resources calling into question
how the purposes of the law have evolved in the last 20 years.

2 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Public Access to EAJA Fees?”

  1. Thanks to John Marker who pointed out this site. I am trying to get updated information from them.

    Also to refer to Bob’s post Cows vs. Fish which dealt with some fee issues.

    It seems like someone should know the answer to my question, though.
    Here’s the President’s Press Release on the Transparency Order

    Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

    I’d suggest that DOJ doesn’t need complicated public feedback mechanisms to identify this one thing many people of both parties would like to know.


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