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Senators propose commission to study FOI Act

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   News Media Update       WASHINGTON, D.C.       Freedom of Information       March 10, 2005   

Senators propose commission to study FOI Act

  • Delays in processing FOI Act requests would be examined by an advisory commission under a Senate bill introduced Thursday.

March 10, 2005 — A 16-member commission would be created to study ways to speed processing of Freedom of Information Act requests under a bill introduced Thursday by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The “Faster FOIA Act of 2005” would empower a commission to advise Congress and the president about FOI Act processing delays, including proposing ways to reduce those delays and deciding whether processing fees need changing. The study would last one year.

During remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, Leahy said that more than 15,000 pages in outstanding FOI Act requests have not been fulfilled. “I understand that many requests are complex and that the resources . . . are often lacking,” he said. “If the [c]ommission finds that limited resources are a significant factor . . . then Congress should address the issue by increasing funding levels for FOIA requests.”

Cornyn, former Texas Attorney General, said that in that job, he worked to put Texas at the forefront of open government in the United States, setting up what he called “one of the strongest set of open government laws in the nation.”

Congress would select 12 of the 16 commissioners, while the remaining four would be chosen by the archivist of the United States, the attorney general, the comptroller general and the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The introduction of the “Faster FOIA Act of 2005” comes less than a month after Cornyn and Leahy introduced the “OPEN Government Act of 2005,” which aims to strengthen to the Freedom of Information Act. A hearing on that bill is scheduled for Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcomittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security.

(S.589, Faster FOIA Act of 2005)AB

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