A bill that would make significant changes to the Freedom of Information Act got a lift this morning when it was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This legislation represents the biggest amendment to America’s federal open records act since 2007 and comes months after a similar proposal failed to clear Congress near the end of last year.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s it called?
The FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015, or, if you prefer formal designations, H.R. 653.
What does it do?
There are a number of provisions in the bill. Among them:
Shines a light on old government deliberations. Want to know how the government made decisions in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis? This bill would modify a provision in the Freedom of Information Act that allows government agencies to withhold inter-agency memos and letters from the public, opening up records or information created more than 25 years ago.
“If the only reason the government would deny a FOIA request is internal deliberations, if those internal deliberations are over 25 years old, then the government could no longer withhold that information,” said Rick Blum, director of the Sunshine in Government Initiative.