Implementing FOIA a test of new administration, 2016 FOIA Amendments

The incoming Trump administration has a narrower window for affecting how agencies implement their obligations under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) than previous presidents, however each administration sets the tone for disclosure decisions in cases where agencies have discretion.

With the enactment of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, Congress wrote into law an explicit requirement that agencies disclose information requested under FOIA unless they foresee a harm to a protected interest, such as national security or personal privacy. While the new administration cannot change the presumption of openness by executive action alone, it can influence what agencies do (or don’t do) when they receive a FOIA request.