FOIA activists and other government news fans might remember the narrow defeat of the Freedom of Information (FOIA) Reform Act just two months ago. Now, four lawmakers are trying to once again make some FOIA improvements. House Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as well as Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have introduced new measures that aim to improve FOIA legislation. Many of the goals of these bills are similar to those proposed last December in the Senate.
The proposed FOIA legislation would put a 25 year limit on agencies’ ability to withhold records on privileged communications. The bill would also mandate the creation of a central, government-wide online FOIA portal where citizens, activists, and other FOIA requesters could submit requests to multiple agencies through one process.
The FOIA Reform bills proposed in 2014 garnered bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House before being shot down. Said Rep. Cummings, “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen one of our most critical open government laws by bringing greater sunlight to federal agency actions….There should be a presumption of openness in this country, and agencies should have to justify their actions when they want to withhold information from the American people.” Many of his peers, including Senators Cornyn and Leahy, agree that FOIA and open government reform are critical to our nation’s future.
Courtney James is AINS’ Marketing & Graphic Design Associate. She has experience with social media, public relations, graphic design, event management, and many other marketing topics. Courtney loves to blog about topics dealing with technology in government, social media, and case management. She holds degrees in Communication and Art from the University of Maryland, College Park.