FOIA Amendments Pass House–In Senate Next Week


The House passed HR 1309 on Wednesday, and a version of the same bill is in the Senate as S 894 (not yet on Thomas or Open Congress). Please write co-sponsors Leahy and Cornyn to let them hear your support.

The bill would reduce delays in agency processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by:

> Clarifying that FOIA requesters who are forced to bring legal action to push an agency to respond can become eligible to collect attorneys’ fees when their suit is successful or is a catalyst for a change in the agency’s position (the agency changes its position prior to judgment and releases documents).

> Requiring detailed and comparable data on processing times to be reported to Congress and the public.

> Taking away the ability of an agency to claim most exemptions.

The bill would improve customer service and accountability by:

> Requiring agencies to establish FOIA hotlines and tracking systems.

> Requiring additional annual reporting.

> Ensuring agencies specify the exemption relied upon for any redaction in a released document.

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