Enact the Public Online Information Act

Congress should pass the Public Online Information Act (POIA), legislation that requires Executive Branch agencies to publish all publicly available information on the Internet in a timely fashion and in user-friendly formats.


POIA requires Executive Branch agencies to publish public information on the Internet subject to limited, commonsense exceptions. It requires OMB’s E-Government Administrator and CIOs at independent agencies to craft disclosure regulations reflecting a presumption of openness and transparency. It grants a limited private right of action (similar to that under FOIA) to guarantee that the government lives up to its transparency obligations. POIA also creates a special federal advisory committee, with members appointed by each branch of government, plus one appointed by GSA, to coordinate the development of Internet disclosure policies.

POIA’s scope is limited in three major ways:

  • Sunrise provision: Internet disclosure of public records becomes mandatory three years after POIA’s enactment, giving agencies time to prepare.
  • Prospective application: Only public records generated, updated, or released after POIA’s enactment must be published online, limiting the timeframe of disclosure.
  • Content-based exemptions: Public records exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act may also be exempted from POIA’s online publication requirement. Additional records beyond the scope of FOIA may be withheld if it is in the public’s interest.

In the age of the Internet, government is transparent only when public information is available online.

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