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RCFP recommends changes to Office of Management and Budget’s proposed FOIA guidelines

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  1. Freedom of Information

Update: On Dec. 17, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget issued its new Freedom of Information Act guidelines. OMB rejected the Reporters Committee’s recommendation that it include the legal definition of “representative of the news media.”

On June 3, 2020, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 17 news organizations submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget recommending changes to proposed revisions to the Uniform Freedom of Information Act Fee Schedule and Guidelines.

The comments recommend that OMB add the legal definition of “representative of the news media” to changes it proposed on May 4 so that there is no confusion among different government agencies as to the ability of members of the news media to receive fee benefits under FOIA.

The comments also request that OMB remove a statement that says the guidelines don’t address waiver or reduction of fees. As the media coalition’s letter notes, the current guidelines do, in fact, tell agencies to consider requests from the media as not for commercial use to ensure journalists can get the proper fees waived.

“When representatives of the news media seek records under FOIA,” the letter states, “they do so for the benefit of the public, not to serve a commercial interest.”

Read the Reporters Committee’s full letter.

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