This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a unique case revolving around how states deal with people and businesses from outside their borders when responding to Freedom of Information requests. The case tackles some of the different ways that each individual state administers their Freedom of Information Act, but it got me thinking about ways the the Federal level FOIA could be improved. Luckily, we heard three compelling presentations on this very topic at the most recent Advisory Committee on Transparency event. The talks dealt with limiting and defining exemptions as well as proactively releasing more information without waiting for a FOI request to be made.
Rick Blum, the Coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, argued that any attempt to carve exemptions into FOIA must go through the relevant committees of jurisdiction.
Justin McCarthy, of Judicial Watch, contended that the FOIA's "deliberative process" and other b(5) privileges should be explicitly defined in law.
Gavin Baker, an Open Government Policy Analyst at the Center for Effective Government, argued that agencies should be required to proactively publish more data online.
You can view all of the presentations from the event here. The Advisory Committee on Transparency brings groups and individuals together to discuss transparency issues and share ideas. The Advisory Committee and the Sunlight Foundation do not necessarily endorse the ideas presented in these videos.