Testimony: Reinvigorating freedom of information for the digital age

Among the journalism experts testifying before the U.S. Senate last week was David Cuillier, head of the UA journalism school and president of the Society of Professional Journalists, who spoke about the importance of open government and freedom of information in advance of Sunshine Week. Here is his statement, as prepared for delivery, made on behalf of the Sunshine in Government Initiative:

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White House Recruits Tech Entrepreneurs

Uncle Sam wants a few good innovators — again. The White House has launched the third round of its Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program, which pairs tech-savvy entrepreneurs from the private sector with top government officials to tackle selected challenges facing the administration.

The program's "lean startup" approach has delivered a variety of tools, including ones that help the public save on utility bills and improve access to government health information, and it has brought acclaim to participants.

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House unanimously passes FOIA bill

The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would make Freedom of Information requests easier with potentially faster response times.

H.R. 1211, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 was co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and puts into action an executive memorandum from President Barack Obama that calls on all agencies to have a "presumption of disclosure" to all FOIA decisions.

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Political Review Hampers FOIA Process, Watchdogs Say

Government watchdog groups and reporters say political appointees have been given increased sway over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the Obama administration, slowing down the release of public records and introducing political pressure to the process.

Numerous federal agencies have adopted policies to review “significant” or “sensitive” FOIA requests. The White House also frequently reviews FOIA requests it claims contain executive branch materials.

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