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The Justice Department Is Spending Many Millions of Your Tax Dollars on PACER

Last week DOJ’s Justice Management Division responded to Fix the Court’s Aug. 2, 2022, FOIA request for “the amount of money in PACER fees that Justice Department paid in the years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.” (DOJ is PACER’s biggest user.)

Though the response was a bit delayed, to put it nicely, we did get an extra year of data from them:

Year    Amount
2023    $5,634,474.10
2022    $5,368,888.90
2021    $5,490,794.30
2020    $4,963,957.50
2019    $5,042,601.30
2018    $4,869,444.80

That’s a total of $31.4 million over six years, or $5.2 million per year. So last year was a bit higher than average, though as you can see, the numbers are trending upward.

One reason we’re tracking this is that charging PACER’s biggest users a fee while new/free PACER gets up and running is a strategy some lawmakers have supported to ensure that the system has a cash injection from the start without having to request funds from the Appropriations Committees.

So knowing what DOJ pays in now can be helpful to that calculation in the future.

Looking for additional data on the DOJ’s PACER bill? Free Law Project has a nice write-up here.

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