On March 29, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how to improve transparency in the 21st century. All of the Senators were in agreement that FOIA needs work. They discussed that despite a decrease in FOIA requests, there has been an increase in backlog, as well as the incredibly long agency response time. The Alliance’s coalition partner Open the Government submitted a statement for the record that highlighted some of FOIA’s serious issues and potential solutions, including providing agencies resources and maximizing affirmative disclosures. The statement also points out how the DOJ’s recent FOIA guidelines do relatively little to help the issues FOIA requesters are facing, despite taking over a year to release the memo. The hearing also showed the DOJ’s lack of enforcement mechanisms, as the DOJ witness could only point to training and guidance as ways to ensure compliance with FOIA guidelines. Read more here.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.