Yesterday, the House passed the FOIA Improvement Act (S.337), bringing the comprehensive FOIA reform bill one step closer to becoming law in time for FOIA's 50th birthday on July 4. The FOIA Improvement Act passed the Senate by unanimous consent in March and, in a bicameral & bipartisan effort to ensure the FOIA legislation is signed into law during this Congress, House leadership decided to vote on the Senate version, and send the bill to the White House for the President’s signature. The White House has since stated that President Obama intends to sign the bill into law.
OpenTheGovernment.org commends the efforts on the part of Congressional leaders, staff members, and open government advocates who have been working to push the FOIA reform legislation that is critical to ensuring government accountability. The FOIA Improvement Act includes important provisions that OTG and our partners in the open government community have been working for nearly a decade to codify into law, including:
- Codifying the presumption of openness for future administrations;
- Harnessing technology to improve the FOIA process;
- Limiting, to a period of 25 years, the ability of agencies to keep internal deliberations confidential; and
- Increasing the effectiveness of the FOIA by strengthening the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).