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Without Comment, President Signs FOIA Reform Bill

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  1. Freedom of Information
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President George Bush waited until the last day of 2007 and the last day he could act, then signed, without comment, a bill to reform the Freedom of Information Act. The OPEN Government Act, which would have become law without his signature, amends the FOIA by: (1) establishing a broader definition of “a representative of the news media;” (2) directing that attorney fees be paid if a requester “substantially prevail” after filing suit and that the payment come from the agency, not a general government fund; (3) prohibiting an agency from assessing certain fees if it fails to comply with FOIA deadlines; and (4) establishing an Office of Government Information Services to review agency compliance with FOIA. The bill had passed both houses by voice vote. (1/1/08)