07.27.11

The Washington Post: Freedom of Information Act Needs a Push

Editorial

Today, The Washington Post published an editorial endorsing the Faster FOIA Act, legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to make improvements to the nation’s premier open government law, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Leahy has been a longtime leader in Congress on open government issues, and has partnered with Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas to author recent laws to strengthen FOIA, including the OPEN Government Act and the OPEN FOIA Act.  The Senate unanimously approved the Faster FOIA Act in May; the bill has been pending in the House of Representatives.

“THIS YEAR MARKS the 45th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a crucial, if sometimes sluggish, vehicle through which journalists can demand greater government openness and accountability. In May, in a rare moment of bipartisanship, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) won unanimous Senate passage of the Faster FOIA Act, which would establish an advisory panel to examine the backlog of more than 69,000 FOIA requests. It’s time for the House to take it up.”

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“As much as FOIA can be a journalist’s best friend, it can also be a nightmare. Despite amendments in 2007 and 2009, the FOIA process remains beset by incompetence and lack of guidance for evaluating requests.”

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“These facts should reinforce the need for progress, however modest, when it comes to improving the FOIA process. While there was no opposition to the Faster FOIA legislation in the Senate, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has yet to take a position on the bill, according to a spokesman. We urge him to embrace it in the same bipartisan spirit as the Senate, and to do so immediately.”

Read the full Washington Post editorial online.

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