As ASNE and others hope for one last push at passing the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 (S 2520), we also have joined a letter sent to President Barack Obama that identifies six key components integral to upholding the commitment he made on his first full day in office to be the most transparent administration in history. The letter, signed by 50 organizations dedicated to open government, asks for:
- Codification of the "presumption of openness" underlying FOIA
- Codification of the "foreseeable harm" standard contained in a 2009 Attorney General's memorandum, which says that information should be given out even when it could be withheld pursuant to a FOIA exemption, unless foreseeable harm would result from its disclosure
- Creation of a public interest balancing test to allow greater disclosure of documents currently being withheld under Exemption 5
- Creation of a sunset to allow for presumptive release of documents currently being withheld under Exemption 5
- Strengthening the penalties for failure to meet the statutorily mandated 20-day deadline for responding to a FOIA request
- Strengthening the Office of Government Information Services
Those who have been paying close attention to our prior updates on S 2520 will note that these are all addressed in that legislation. We hope that the White House will show a strong commitment to these issues, spurring the Senate (and, soon after, the House of Representatives) to pass this bill.