House Oversight panel approves FOIA reforms

The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at increasing the public's access to government documents. 
 
The changes to the Freedom of Information Act, approved by voice vote, were sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md). 
 

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Transparency is a Pro-Government Policy

Upon assuming the office of the presidency, Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. Nobody asked him to do that, but given the unpopularity of the secrecy of the George W. Bush administration, it was a safe bet that such a promise would be received warmly. President Obama laid out his rationale in a memorandum which included the following key points (emphasis in original):

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.

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Restoring freedom to information in the Freedom of Information Act

Over time federal agencies have flipped the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on its head. Congress clearly intended the FOIA to be a tool for the public to pry information out of federal agencies. In recent years, however, agencies have blatantly abused opaque language in the law to keep records that might be embarrassing out of the public’s hands forever.

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