It’s Sunshine Week in the U.S., and already activists are fanning out across the country to celebrate open access to information. Here at Sunlight, we’re celebrating the old fashioned way: by causing a ruckus. We’re joining dozens of organizations and hundreds of affiliated activists this week in pushing for key reforms to the nation’s freedom of information laws. Our call: We want Congress to reform the Freedom of Information Act — and we want it now.
The Freedom of Information Act has long existed as the bedrock for the public’s access to government information. But it’s also been simultaneously plagued by asterisks, including overly broad exemptions, ridiculous fees and other unnecessary provisions designed to obscure transparency.
That’s where you come in. We know from experience the simple formula for reform: The more voices, the louder the call. So we’ve built a tool to make it easy for you to contact Congress. Simply visit the tool here and type in your ZIP code. We’ll return your members’ phone numbers and some tweets targeted right for them.
The Freedom of Information Act is a vital tool for government accountability. But for far too long, the law has been hamstrung by overly broad exemptions, unnecessary fees and obtuse provisions that protect secrecy.
But here’s the good news: Legislation is currently pending before the House and Senate that would fix those issues. It is vital that Congress hears from you, so they understand how important FOIA reform is to their constituents. Call or tweet them today and tell them to support legislation to #reformFOIA!
FOIA reform almost became law last Congress, but it moved late in the session and ran up against some last minute obstacles. Champions in the House and Senate moved quickly to reintroduce reforms this year in order to ensure that the bills had plenty of time to work their way through the system.
The House bill covers a lot of the same ground as the Senate bill, with a few significant additions. Both bills address significant problems with the current FOIA statute. They require agencies to update their FOIA regulations in a timely fashion, codify the presumption of openness, improve public digital access to records released under the FOIA and strengthen the Office of Government Information Services.
A bipartisan consensus exists in Congress that now is the time to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, but a final push is necessary to make it happen — and we need your help to do it. Call or tweet your member of Congress today and tell them to support legislation to #reformFOIA!