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).
“Nearly fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson signed FOIA into law, the bipartisan spirit to make government transparent and accountable to the public is alive and well,” Blum said.
SGI members appreciate the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) as well as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut.), for crafting bipartisan legislation that takes significant steps to address many challenges that requesters, including the media, face when using FOIA.
Specifically, H.R. 653 codifies the current “presumption of openness” policy, thereby ensuring agencies follow a pro-disclosure policy in future administrations. Among many improvements to FOIA, the bill gives the Office of Government Information Services (the “FOIA Ombudsman”) the independence that Congress intended when Congress created that office in 2007. In addition, it creates a single portal for all agencies to accept requests from a requester and takes several steps to improve management of FOIA.
“We congratulate the U.S. House for doing their part to help ‘fix FOIA by 50’ and we look forward to working with the Senate so we can celebrate FOIA’s 50th anniversary on July 4th with a stronger, better FOIA,” Blum said.
This July 4, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signature making FOIA the law of the land.
For more information, visit our “Fix FOIA by 50” resource center.