Bill would increase agencies’ accountability under FOI Act
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has drafted and intends to introduce in mid-July a bill to demand more federal agency accountability to Congress on responsiveness to Freedom of Information Act requests. The measure would also add requirements for putting agency information on line.
The bill would make agencies report to Congress on their FOI Act activities through the Office of Management and Budget. Currently the act requires the Department of Justice to collect and assess FOI reports annually. Reports would be made electronically.
The bill would also increase the information agencies would report about their FOI activities, most notably requiring that agencies tally and present the total number of FOI Act requests they received and the total to which they responded, including grants and denials. The FOI Act now requires only that agencies report the numbers of denials they make each year.
Agencies would report the median number of days it takes to respond to a request and the numbers of requests not answered within several time periods. They would also tally and report the numbers of denials they made under each of the FOI Act’s nine exemptions.
The bill was to be introduced separately from a bill being drafted by Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) and Rep. Randy Tate (R-Wash.) after hearings held in mid-June to discuss problems with the FOI Act before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight’s Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology. However, Maloney expects that the measure would ultimately be incorporated into the more comprehensive FOI bill.
Horn is chairman of that subcommittee and Maloney a minority subcommittee member. The have been considering a Senate bill drafted by Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Electronic FOI Improvement Act. (S. 1090)