12.04.12

Leahy Highlights Need To Enact Faster FOIA Act

New Report Critical Of Agency Compliance Of OPEN Government Act

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, December 4, 2012) – Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a congressional leader in open government issues and a coauthor of the bipartisan Faster FOIA Act, called on the Obama administration to make transparency a top priority in its second term after a report released by the National Security Archive today found a majority of government agencies have not updated their Freedom of Information Act regulations despite requirements to do so under the OPEN Government Act, which was enacted in 2007.  Leahy, along with Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), authored the law, which made the first significant reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in more than a decade.

“The audit released today by the National Security Archive makes clear that the overwhelming majority of federal agencies are neither fulfilling the President's promise of an open and transparent government for the American people, nor complying with the vital reforms to the FOIA process that Congress demanded by enacting the Leahy-Cornyn OPEN Government Act,” Leahy said.

Leahy and Cornyn are also coauthors of the Faster FOIA Act, which would establish an advisory panel to examine agency backlogs in processing FOIA requests and provide recommendations to Congress for legislative and administrative action to enhance agency responses to such requests. While the Senate has twice unanimously approved the legislation in the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives has failed to act on the legislation. Leahy said today’s report from the National Security Archive underscores the need for Congress to enact this important legislation.

Leahy continued, “During both Democratic and Republican administrations, I have worked to make sure that our government is open, accountable and accessible to the American people.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue its long-standing practice of conducting meaningful oversight of FOIA compliance. But the recalcitrant problem of lax FOIA compliance cannot be fully addressed by the Congress alone.  That is why I and many others have called on the House of Representatives to pass the Faster FOIA Act, to draw upon the expertise and insights of stake holders in the FOIA requester community to examine the FOIA process and make recommendations to the President and to the Congress on ways to keep our government open to its citizens.”

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