Just about a year ago we congratulated Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., for reintroducing the Public Online Information Act (POIA) in the Senate. Today we are happy to do the same for Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who has brought the legislation back to the House of Representatives. Tester and Israel first introduced this vital transparency legislation, with strong support from Sunlight and other open government groups, in 2010 and championed it again in the 112th Congress.
POIA will update antiquated government disclosure practices by embracing the idea that, in the internet age, public should equal online. The bill would require executive branch agencies to publish their publicly available information online in a timely manner and in useful formats. It would also build on important steps taken by the Obama administration by requiring agencies to inventory all of their public information holdings.
The legislation also creates an advisory committee to help develop government-wide internet publication policies and provides the public with a limited private right of action, similar to what exists under FOIA. These provisions will ensure better communication and more consistent policy across the government while vastly improving public oversight.
As Rep. Israel stated, “People across the country…should be able to see any public government information from the convenience of their computer.”
POIA will go a long way towards moving the government into the online public square. We applaud Representative Israel, and Senator Tester, for continuing to champion it and will encourage their colleagues to support and pass it.