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.

“The FOIA Improvement Act is a fitting continuation of the Senators’ longtime championship of government openness and accountability,” said Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org. “The bill takes important steps to make the FOIA a stronger and more effective tool for the public.”

Many of the FOIA Improvement Act’s key provisions are mirrored in a bill passed unanimously by the House in June. Both pieces of legislation would improve OGIS’ oversight capabilities, require the creation of a centralized FOIA portal, and put into statute the administration’s policy that agencies review FOIA requests with a “presumption of openness.” We understand that Senate staff worked closely with their House Oversight and Government Reform colleagues to make sure that the bill could embraced by both chambers and sent to the President for his signature before the end of the 113th Congress later this year.

“The US Congress has a small window of time to pass this common-sense, bipartisan legislation,” said McDermott. “We urge the House and Senate to pass the FOIA Improvement Act as quickly as possible, and look forward to having these critical reforms become a part of the law.”

 

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