35 Civil Society Groups Urge Senate to Promptly Amend FOIA

Last week, Open The Government joined a nonpartisan coalition of government openness, accountability, and human rights groups in urging the Senate to support the Open and Responsive Government Act. The bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), John Cornyn (R-Iowa), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) aims to restore the public’s access to information from private entities that do business with the government following the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media (FMI). The Court’s decision significantly expanded the scope of FOIA’s exemption 4, threatening the public’s access to vital public health and safety information.

In a letter to the senators, the organizations spelled out the restrictive impact the Court’s expanded exemption would have on public access to information about the environment, food, drugs, and government spending waste, which would be shielded from public oversight.

“This legislation is a necessary course correction that will help address waste and corruption while making it easier for public interest organizations and journalists to access information in the way FOIA intended,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open The Government said when the bill was introduced.

Read the coalition’s letter on why the “commonsense” bill would protect the public’s interest and strengthen government transparency, accountability and oversight here.