From the Spring 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 22.
A bill to reform the Freedom of Information Act passed the House by a 308-117 vote on March 14. A similar bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 12 and awaits a vote by the full Senate. Some key provisions of the bills are:
• Create an ombudsman to provide an alternative to litigating FOIA disputes and to conduct analysis of agency information practices.
• Expand eligibility for reduced fees for “news media” requesters. This will benefit bloggers and other journalists who lack a traditional publication history.
• Allow for requesters to more easily recoup attorney fees if a lawsuit prompts an agency to turn over records.
• In the House version of the bill, if an agency misses the 20-day deadline to acknowledge a request, it must refund search and duplication fees.
• Require each request be assigned an individual tracking number.
• The House version of the bill mandates that redactions be justified with specific citations to legal authority.
• Create additional categories of data for agencies to provide statistics on. –NW