Congress is quite adept at protecting its self-interest while ignoring the public’s interest, but this week offered a glimmer of hope that lawmakers still care about good governance and accountability. On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act, a bill critical to changing the federal government’s culture of resistance to openness.
The House must move quickly to pass the legislation before lawmakers head home for the holidays.
The process of obtaining federal records is difficult and lengthy as it is. Agencies are notorious for stonewalling FOIA requests, sometimes taking years to respond before denying them on legally flimsy grounds. The Obama administration, which promised to be the most transparent in history, has been especially awful at providing public records. In fact, an Associated Press study determined the Obama administration is the least transparent in recent history — and getting worse by the year. “More often than ever,” the news organization reported, “the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them” and “under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.” Continue>>>