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Statement: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves FOIA Improvement Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the FOIA Improvement Act today, prepping the bill for a vote by the full Senate. The bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and John Cornyn bolsters the public’s ability to obtain information about what the federal government is doing and why.

Leahy-Cornyn Release Revised FOIA Reform Bill

On November 18 Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Cornyn released a revised version of S. 2520, the FOIA Improvement Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to mark-up the bill on Thursday, November 20. More than 70 organizations joined in a letter authored by OTG and Public Citizen urging the Judiciary Committee to support the measure.’s Statement on the Senate's Failure to Advance USA Freedom Act is disappointed at the Senate’s failure to advance the compromise version of the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685) last night. The bill contained important advances for transparency about surveillance, though they were only a first step towards the disclosures that are necessary to restore democratic accountability. Supports Passage of the USA Freedom Act, Opposes Any Amendments to Weaken the Bill

Over the summer, and a group of other transparency organizations wrote to Senate leadership to request that they allow a floor vote on the Senate compromise version of the USA FREEDOM Act, without any changes that weaken the text.

Lame Duck Looking Not So Lame for OpenGov

The lame duck session of the 113th Congress has already acted on one open government priority-- sending a bill to the President for signature that will help speed up the release of historical White House Records -- and leaders in the Senate have taken steps to push forward legislation to reform the National Surveillance Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs and to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

Senate Judiciary to Vote on FOIA Improvement Act Next Week - November 13, 2014 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Senate Judiciary Set to Vote on FOIA Reform (more)

Job Announcement -- Policy Associate seeks experienced applicants for the position of Policy Associate. is a coalition of more than 90 organizations that are dedicated to making the federal government more open and accountable. Coalition members represent a broad and varied range of interests and cross the political spectrum. The coalition’s small staff works to organize the openness community around opportunities to influence federal policies.

Players or Spectators: Observations on CSO Participation in the OGP was pleased to host Al Kags as a Mandela Washington Fellow this summer. Mr. Kags is the founder of the Open Institute, a "think-do tank" that collaborates with governments and civil society groups on open government issues.

In partnership with OTG, Mr.Kags and the Open Institute present an insightful analysis of the role of civil society in the Open Government Partnership. In addition to observations drawn from conversations with government officials and civil society representatives from several OGP countries, the report features recommendations for improving CSO participation.

Information About Congress That *Should* Be at Your Fingertips

Modern Americans have come to expect and demand real-time access to information about the things we run into in daily life: the weather, traffic conditions, lunch specials in the cafeteria, etc. Shockingly, though, we continue to accept that our access to information about the laws being considered by Congress, and how Congress is managing other policy issues, is slow and incomplete.

Watch Now: OGIS at 5

In creating the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Congress charged the office with the dual responsibility of mediating disputes regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests between requesters and federal agencies, and providing Congress and the President with recommendations on how to improve agencies compliance with the FOIA. At five years old, OGIS faces challenges and changes.

The Classified Section

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

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