National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Senate, House mull contrasting FOIA reform bills

A recent Congressional Research Service report compared and contrasted two Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, reform bills that are working their way through Congress.

Both bills – the Senate's FOIA Improvement Act (S 337) and the House's FOIA Act (HR 653) – would increase public access, including through electronic means; establish a statutory "presumption of openness," meaning that agencies can withhold information only if disclosing it would harm an interest protected by statutory exemption or law; and create a Chief FOIA Officers Council, responsible for informing FOIA administrators of best practices, according to the April 21 report.

Other shared goals included clarifying the right to request information related to intra- and interagency communication, standardizing agencies' use of search and duplication fees, and requiring agencies to notify requesters of the status of their requests and of dispute resolution processes for requests that they believe have been wrongly denied. Continue…