The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced that it supports the OPEN Government Act of 2005 introduced today on the Senate floor by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
In a letter of support, the Reporters Committee said that the bill would greatly improve public understanding of government and enforcement of open records law.
“Although journalists play a major role in delivering information about the government to the public, their use of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information has been crippled by extensive delay, by over-use of the exemptions to the act and, perhaps most importantly, by a pervasive lack of respect for open government laws among federal agency leadership.”
The bill creates an ombudsman office to mediate delays and denials requesters encounter at federal agencies as an alternative to lawsuits against agencies. The office would be in the newly re-established Administrative Conference of the United States.
- prohibits passage of obscure secrecy bills in Congress
- requires reports on old requests, response times and fee waivers
- opens federal records in contractor’s hands
- makes public data and effectiveness on critical infrastructure information secrecy
- protects fee benefits for freelancers
- holds agency personnel accountable for FOI work
- allows recovery of attorneys fees by requesters who successfully sue for information