07.01.16

Cornyn, Leahy Bill Strengthening FOIA Signed by President

Cornyn, Leahy Bill Strengthening FOIA Signed by President

Bipartisan Open Government Reform Legislation Becomes Law

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 30, 2016) – United States Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) issued the following statements after President Obama signed their FOIA Improvement Act into law Thursday afternoon:

“One of our country’s hallmark values is a commitment to open and transparent government, and today is an important step towards ensuring the American people can hold their government accountable,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I appreciate Senator Leahy’s partnership on this bill and I am pleased to see it become law today.”

“It is fitting that the original Freedom of Information Act shares its birthday with our republic itself, and that we celebrate it by ushering in the most significant reforms to our nation’s premier transparency law in 50 years,” Sen. Leahy said. “The FOIA Improvement Act brings FOIA into the digital age and ensures that sunshine, not secrecy, is the default setting of our government. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Cornyn to ensure that FOIA remains a successful transparency tool in the years to come.”

The FOIA Improvement Act, which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year, requires Federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and aims to reduce the overuse of exemptions to withhold information from the public. The legislation will reduce bureaucracy in the FOIA request process by requiring the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create a single portal through which individuals can submit a FOIA request to any agency. It also requires agencies to proactively disclose documents that are likely to be of public interest in order to increase access to government documents outside the often onerous FOIA request process.Finally, the legislation provides the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), an office created by the Leahy-Cornyn OPEN Government Act in 2007 to help mediate FOIA disputes, with additional independence and authority to carry out its work.

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