Today, Senator Jon Tester introduced legislation that would revolutionize how the public gains access to government information. The Public Online Information Act (POIA) [PDF] requires all government-held information that is already required to be publicly available to be posted online, subject to common-sense exceptions. Representative Steve Israel (NY-02) introduced companion legislation (HR 4858) in the House of Representatives in March.
POIA addresses the problem that much government information is hard to find and difficult to use. It ensures that government information from across all executive branch agencies will be available to everyone with a few keystrokes on a computer. It also brings together all three branches of government to figure out how to best make information available to the public.
In March, a coalition of organizations cheered POIA on, writing “Our vital public information can enhance accountability, spur commerce, and empower citizenship, but only if we create and require meaningful digital access to it.” Senator Tester is working to do just that.