The Clock’s Ticking on Freedom of Information Reform

One of the remaining dramas as the lame-duck Congressional session slouches to a close is whether House Speaker John Boehner will allow a vote on an important reform measure aimed at strengthening the Freedom of Information Act. That’s the law that allows journalists and the public to access federal government records.

A key provision of the legislation, the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act, would codify the “presumption of openness” President Obama ordered in a 2009 directive. It would mandate that federal agencies may withhold information only when it foresees specific harm to, say, national security or policy deliberations between agencies.

The provision is necessary because future presidents could withdraw Mr. Obama’s directive, and agencies delay or even refuse to hand over records on flimsy grounds. Continue>>>