Congress Passes First FOIA Reform Bill in More Than a Decade

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The House of Representatives at 5:18 pm today unanimously passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform bill (S. 2488) that passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 14. The bill aims to fix some of the most persistent problems in the FOIA system, including excessive delay, lack of responsiveness, and litigation gamesmanship by federal agencies. Following today’s approval by the House, the OPEN Government Act will be sent to the President's desk for approval.

“Our six government-wide audits of FOIA performance show that these bipartisan changes to the Freedom of Information Act are common sense solutions,” remarked Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive. “This bill establishes tracking systems for FOIA requests like FedEx uses for packages, actually penalizes agencies for the first time for delays that our audits found could reach 20 years, and sets up an office to mediate disputes as an alternative to litigation.”

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