On December 31, 2007, President Bush signed into law legislation (S. 2488) to implement the first reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in more than a decade. Congress passed the passed the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act (OPEN Government Act) bill on December 18, 2007.
The legislation improves transparency in the Federal Government’s FOIA process by:
- Restoring meaningful deadlines for agency action under FOIA;
- Imposing real consequences on federal agencies for missing FOIA’s 20-day statutory deadline;
- Clarifying that FOIA applies to government records held by outside private contractors;
- Establishing a FOIA hotline service for all federal agencies; and
- Creating a FOIA Ombudsman to provide FOIA requestors and federal agencies with a meaningful alternative to costly litigation.
In 2007, NCH issued a legislative alert urging passage of the FOIA bill and was involved in a broad-based coalition that worked towards passage of the legislation.