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ASNE-supported FOIA reform bill passes House by unanimous vote

 
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, HR 1211, the FOIA Reform Act, passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote. The bill would provide the first major reforms to the federal FOIA in seven years. 
 

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, HR 1211, the FOIA Reform Act, passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote. The bill would provide the first major reforms to the federal FOIA in seven years. 

 

Among the improvements to FOIA contemplated by HR 1211 are the creation of a new "FOIA Portal" to make it easier to submit and track requests online, as well as to provide for increased "proactive" disclosure of government information without even needing a request; codifying the "presumption of openness" stated by Attorney General Eric Holder, which says that the government should be engaged in the discretionary disclosure of government information unless a "foreseeable harm" would ensue from its release; strengthening the Office of Government Information Services (sometimes referred to as the "FOIA Ombudsman"), which was created in 2007; strengthening FOIA oversight in various ways; and making it easier for groups, including ASNE, to oversee the government's FOIA compliance. 

 

ASNE was one of almost 30 organizations that sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives prior to the vote urging them to pass HR 1211. The letter also asks the Senate Judiciary Committee to build on the House's action and pass FOIA reform legislation.

 

We ask ASNE members to help us in this effort by reaching out to your senator and asking him or her to support FOIA reform. Contacting your senator could be especially important if he or she is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will be holding a FOIA oversight hearing Tuesday, March 11. In addition, you have a timely opportunity to raise this issue given that Sunshine Week is right around the corner from March 16-22, and coincides with a Senate recess, which means your senator is likely to be in his or her home state. 

 

Please do not hesitate to contact ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or at goldberg@fhhlaw.com for more information on this issue. 

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