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).

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]

New OGIS leadership off to a good start with agency FOIA reviews

Recently, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) began conducting compliance reviews of agency FOIA operations and posting its findings online, to share with the public and with other agencies. These no-nonsense analyses involve examining agency annual FOIA reports, interviewing FOIA personnel, and surveying agency staff; the idea is to accumulate institutional knowledge and refract it back through agencies to make FOIA work better. Notably, OGIS sharpened its reviewing skills at home, starting at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which underwent the inaugural reviews (here, and here). Now, the Department of Homeland Security, as the agency with the highest [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]

Agency delays hamper FOIA, AP’s general counsel tells Senate

 PRESS RELEASE & TESTIMONY   Agency delays hamper FOIA, media coalition witness tells Senate AP general counsel tells Senate panel agencies are nonresponsive and withhold rather than disclose, while requesters have little effective recourse. Note: The written testimony will be available through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Federal agencies avoid disclosing information in a timely manner under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) most often by simply not responding and by leaning toward withholding over disclosing information, giving requesters little effective recourse other than going to court, the general counsel for The Associated Press (AP) told the Senate Judiciary Committee on [More]

Release: SGI applauds House panel vote to advance FOIA reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Click here for PDF version: SGI Release HOGR Vote on FOIA reform Final Media Coalition applauds House Oversight vote to approve FOIA reform  The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a media coalition promoting commonsense steps to make government more open, today applauds the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for its vote to approve the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015 (H.R. 653). Last week an Associated Press analysis for Sunshine Week showed that FOIA needs to be improved. Important steps to strengthen FOIA in H.R. 653 (as introduced) include: an independent voice for reform within government, an [More]