'Sunshine' Media Group Wants FOIA Reforms Passed By Memorial Day

By: E&P Staff In a final push for the first major rewriting of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in more than a decade, the 10 media organizations that make up the Sunshine in Government Initiative are urging Senate leaders to put the bill up for a vote before Memorial Day.

"Unfortunately, after 40 years FOIA is beginning to show its age," the organizations wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Sunshine groups said FOIA has not been updated in more than a decade, and that the federal government's response to request has been slowing.

"Too often the public receives the documents they need too late, or not at all," they wrote. "And the problem is getting worse."

The reform would create an ombudsman to help requesters get action on their requests, and would impose penalties on federal agencies that miss statutory deadlines for response.

The Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act, or OPEN Government Act (S. 849), would also give requesters a tracking number allowing them to follow the status of their requests online.

Members of the Sunshine in Government Initiative include: the American Society of Newspaper Editors; The Associated Press; the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies; the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government; the National Association of Broadcasters; the National Newspaper Association; the Newspaper Association of America; the Radio-Television News Directors Association; the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and Society of Professional Journalists.


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