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]

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]

OGIS & OMB decide not to make recommendations to Congress

We are deeply disappointed and concerned that the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) — the FOIA Ombudsman — will not be transmitting its recommendations to Congress for improving FOIA. OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet sent a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Ranking Member Charles Grassley noting that OGIS sent draft recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and after consulting with them decided not to send recommendations to Congress.

Leahy and Grassley: We want those OGIS recommendations. We do, too.

A month after senators Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley complained bitterly, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) has still not released its long-delayed recommendations to Congress and the President on improving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process.  OGIS should immediately release to the public recommendations for substantially improving how FOIA works for both agencies and requesters and regularly report on the government’s progress.

Sunshine Week 2012

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open government, will be held March 11-17, 2012.  The week coincides with the birthday of James Madison (March 16th). Initiated and sponsored for years by the American Society of News Editors, this year Sunshine Week is a collaboration between ASNE and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In the past, journalists have conducted audits of FOI laws, policymakers write opinion pieces, editorial cartoonists contribute works for broad distribution, interest groups sponsor programs, and Congress holds a hearing or two to push bills or take stock of where we are with government transparency.

A withdrawal from sunlight? [Updated 4/14]

[UPDATE: On April 12, The Hill reported that the new budget agreement between President Obama and congressional leaders sets a funding level of $8 million for FY2011. A GovExec.com/National Journal article also noted a Sunlight Foundation reaction: “Little is known yet about why lawmakers cut so deeply into the transparency budget because ‘much of the budget negotiation process was almost entirely done in secret’.” –4/14/11] Despite the Obama Administration’s repeated, fervent statements of support for transparency and technological innovation vis-a-vis government data, Federal News Radio reported on March 31 that the Office of Management and Budget plans to shutter seven [More]