Indian Affairs FOIA Exemption

Section 7 of S. 297, the Federal Acknowledgment Process Reform Act of 2003 exempts certain actions by the Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Several groups and individuals voiced objections to a Senate Bureau of Indian Affairs reform bill, in a letter delivered to Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) July 8.

The exemption would specifically allow Interior to hide its actions on any Indian group’s petitions for acknowledgment, until the petition has been “fully documented” and the assistant secretary publishes a notice of its receipt in the Federal Register. This exemption would not apply to U.S. law enforcement formal or informal requests, or subpoenas.

Status: Committee markup is complete and the FOIA exemptions still remain. Not likely to come up on the floor but could be pushed through before the end of the session.

Source: OMB Watcher, July 12, 2004.

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