Senate Approves Sunlight on Proposed FOIA Exemptions

June 18, 2009

Rick Blum
SGI Coordinator
rblum (at)
703-807-2100 or 202-309-2654 (cell)

Last night the Senate approved the OPEN FOIA Act as part of S. 1285, endorsing greater transparency for proposals to put information beyond the public’s reach under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The OPEN FOIA Act requires any legislation creating an FOIA exemption to specifically mention the subsection of FOIA that allows statutory exemptions so the proposals can be found and openly debated. Too often these proposals slip through legislation without open discussion, undermining open government.

“The OPEN FOIA Act allows the public a voice before Congress carves exemptions into FOIA, a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative. “This legislation lets the public cry foul when secrecy ideas are overbroad or unjustified. We hope the House acts as well to allow more open debate before enacting new FOIA exemptions.”

About the Sunshine in Government Initiative

The Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) is a coalition of nine media groups promoting openness and accountability in government. Members of the SGI coalition include: American Society of News Editors, Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, National Association of Broadcasters, National Newspaper Association, Newspaper Association of America, Radio-Television News Directors Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Society of Professional Journalists.

SGI promotes policies that ensure the government is accessible, accountable and open. Public oversight is the ultimate safeguard of democracy. It is the inalienable right of citizens to examine and judge their government; and that right is served when news media act on behalf of the public to gain access to information. More information is online at