FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 14, 2007
rblum (at) sunshineingovernment.org
The ten media organizations comprising the Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) applaud the Congress for moving forward with bipartisan, common sense reforms to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Members of the SGI coalition include: American Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, 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 applauds the Senate for passing the revised legislation, which improves the process by which the federal government carries out FOIA’s disclosure requirements. The bill does not alter FOIA’s disclosure requirements or any of its exemptions.
“In recent weeks, House and Senate negotiators worked diligently to resolve obstacles while retaining significant FOIA improvements,” said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative. “We encourage the House of Representatives to quickly pass this important open government legislation.”
Sponsored originally by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act, or OPEN Government Act, makes simple, common sense reforms to the way federal agencies process requests for documents under FOIA. The bill creates an independent ombudsman to resolve citizen disputes and help agencies strengthen FOIA, creates tracking systems so the public can easily track the status of requests and lets requesters more easily recover legal costs when agencies improperly deny requests.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative is a coalition of ten media groups promoting open and accountable government. For more information, visit www.sunshineingovernment.org.