House Unanimously Passes FOIA Reform

By Elizabeth Holland

Last night, the House of Representatives voted 410-0 to pass the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act (H.R. 1211) nearly a year after the bill was introduced. AALL joined a number of organizations earlier this week in a show of support for the bill, which would put into the law the “presumption of openness” established in President Barack Obama’s Open Government Memorandum, subsequent Open Government Directive, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s FOIA memorandum.

The FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act includes enhancements to the authority of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS); establishes a Chief FOIA Officers Council to review compliance with the act and to recommend improvements; encourages more proactive disclosure; and advances the creation of a central, online portal for making FOIA requests and checking on the status of those requests.

Following yesterday’s unanimous vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VI) tweeted about the “big win for #OpenGov.” He said in a statement, “Transparency in government is a critical part of restoring trust and the House will continue to work to make government more transparent and accessible to all Americans. By expanding the FOIA process online, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act creates greater transparency and continues our open government efforts in the House.”

The bill now moves on to the Senate, where a similar FOIA reform bill passed unanimously last Congress.

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