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FOIA Reform Support Needed Now!

Earlier this year, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VIT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced S. 2520, the FOIA Improvement Act. The bill has generated a lot of enthusiasm in the open government community because it puts reins on agencies' overuse of the exemption covering "pre-decisional material" by requiring that they weigh the public interest in the release of the record. The bill also strengthens the Office of Government Information Services, which was created in 2007 to help enforce the law and to help settle FOIA disputes out of court, and makes other common-sense changes to the way agencies process requests for records. Time is short, though! While the House already passed a similar bill, there are several steps the bill must go through before it can be written into law. "Read more" to find out more about the bill, and how you can help.

Creating a More Open and Accountable Congress - September 16, 2014 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Join the Celebration of Global Legislative Openness Week (more)
– Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments Pass Senate (more)


Four Members of Congress join OpenTheGovernment.org and Other Groups In Seeking End to Secret Legal Interpretations of Executive Order 12333

OpenTheGovernment.org, four members of Congress, and over forty other civil society organizations wrote to President Obama and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) asking for a thorough investigation of the NSA’s surveillance under Executive Order 12333. The letter, organized by Access, states in part:

Court Records Disappear from PACER

On August 11th, Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) deleted records from several federal courts from its online database with little notice, once again spotlighting how PACER obstructs public access to court records. PACER is maintained by the Administrative Office of the US Courts and charges 10 cents for each page of public court documents downloaded.

Secrecy Check: FOIA in FY2013

Each year, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) collects and summarizes agencies’ FOIA reports to give a look at the broader state of FOIA processing.

Congress Must Reform Itself to Change the CIA's Culture of Secrecy

Last week we, together with our partner the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and others, called on President Obama to request CIA Director John Brennan's resignation. This request was made in light of the disturbing confirmation that CIA employees improperly accessed records of investigators from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the CIA's lack of candor about the situation.

5 Assumptions You Might Make about the FOIA Improvement Act

Earlier this summer longtime champions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced S. 2520, the FOIA Improvement Act. The bill builds on several reforms that were included in a bill passed unanimously by the House (HR 1211) and, crucially, puts limits around the use of one of the most overused and abused exemptions in the law. The fact that more than 50 organizations from across the political spectrum and with a wide variety of missions joined in supporting the bill shortly after its release is a tribute to how important it is for the Senate to pass S. 2520. It’s important to understand, though, exactly what the bill will and will not do. Below we take you through some assumptions that you might make about the possible effect of passing the bill.

Release: Public Interest Groups Call for CIA Director to Resign

A coalition of public interest groups called for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation Tuesday, citing abuses of power that include obstructing and spying on a Senate committee that was looking into the agency’s use of torture.

OpenTheGovernment.org to Host Fellow from President Obama’s Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

OpenTheGovernment.org is pleased to announce that it will host Al Kags, a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow from Kenya participating in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in August and September 2014. He was recognized as a New Generation African Leader (2013).

Partners Respond to Leahy’s USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act passed by the House was largely stripped of transparency provisions and meaningful privacy protections. The bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy greatly improves on that bill, including essential reporting requirements and responding to many privacy concerns. Twenty groups joined OTG’s letter supporting the Leahy’s transparency improvements.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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