PRESS RELEASE: Media coalition asks every Senator to support FOIA reform ahead of 2016 Sunshine Week

A coalition of media groups today urged every U.S. Senator to support legislation that establishes a presumption of openness in law, encourages agencies to use public-friendly technology, and makes other changes to the way agencies respond to requests for information from the public. The Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) sent a letter to every senator encouraging support for legislation that would improve the way federal agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. “These changes would help ensure the government discloses information the way Congress intended a half century ago when Congress enacted the original Freedom of Information Act,” [More]

Release: SGI applauds House FOIA vote

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA COALITION APPLAUDS HOUSE VOTE ON FOIA REFORMS The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a media coalition which has worked to increase government transparency for over ten years, applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for approving the “FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015” (H.R. 653) that improves the Freedom of Information Act. “Today’s vote to strengthen disclosure under FOIA shows that Congress can find common ground to make government more transparent and accountable,” said Rick Blum, director of the Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI).

Last-minute change to cybersecurity bill may extend secrecy to government analyses

State and local governments would not be able to disclose to the public analysis and concerns related to cybersecurity under a proposed agreement on cybersecurity legislation reportedly being pushed by the House and Senate intelligence committees. A two-word change would mean state and local governments would have to keep secret information the governments generate themselves, adding to a secrecy provision already in the legislation that already requires governments to shield from disclosure information shared by the private sector. SGI sent a letter on December 15, 2015 objecting to the change.

SGI letter on cybersecurity disclosure exemption

[Note: PDF version]   December 15, 2015 The media associations in the Sunshine in Government Initiative oppose a reported change to cybersecurity legislation that would effectively prevent access to any analysis or assessments of cybersecurity threats – whether classified or not – by state and local governments.  These changes, which we understand to be drafted by the House and Senate intelligence committees and submitted to the conference committee almost entirely in secret, are not the way legislation should be enacted and could actually endanger our nation’s infrastructure by impeding government and public oversight of responses to cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, we [More]

Momentum builds for FOIA reform legislation

After FOIA reformers earned unanimous support in both the House and the Senate last winter, this year transparency groups want to do even better, and see the next round of improvements to the Freedom of Information Act become law. Congress has been attentive, with numerous, vigorous, comprehensive hearings. Journalists and watchdogs are using FOIA – and talking about what could make it even more helpful. Transparency groups are trading notes on proposals to make FOIA more efficient. The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) is reviewing agencies’ FOIA operations for compliance and improvements. The Obama Administration has published its third [More]

Let’s fix FOIA by 50!

In one year on the Fourth of July in 2016, the federal FOIA will celebrate its 50th anniversary. We encourage House and Senate leadership to bring FOIA reform for a full vote in the House and Senate. FOIA reform legislation is bipartisan in both the House and Senate. The House bill, H.R. 653, was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the bill in the Senate (S. 337) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both committees have held hearings focused on FOIA’s problems. We pledge to work with House and Senate leadership and supporters to move the [More]