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]

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]

Leahy-Cornyn bill gives FOIA reform a boost

Prospects for a new round of reforms of FOIA just got brighter as Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced legislation to strengthen FOIA on June 24. The bill contains important, commonsense changes to strengthen transparency of the federal government. The legislation builds on the administration’s active support for agency initiatives that strengthen government transparency and includes changes that require legislation.

Getting serious about FOIA reform

Washington is getting serious about FOIA reform. The House primed the pump before Sunshine Week by passing The FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 (H.R. 1211), on a recorded vote of 410-0, building on FOIA’s non-partisan history and burgeoning bipartisan momentum. The Senate has kept it going with a Judiciary Committee hearing.