“Ensuring Transparency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)”
Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
“Ensuring Agency Compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)”
Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 9:00 a.m.
“This is a pattern of stonewalling”
- Agencies do not realize how broken the FOIA system really is.
- Agencies are under orders from the White House to delay document requests for political review.
- Agencies have a culture of withholding and not prioritizing FOIA.
- The IRS used a “special project team” to evaluate Lois Lerner’s emails.
- Requesters face numerous barriers with delays and redactions being the most significant.
Purpose of Hearings:
- To examine the use of FOIA requests as a tool for government transparency and explore barriers to accessing public documents from the user’s perspective.
- To examine the processes agencies use to meet FOIA’s legal requirements and explore barriers to effective and efficient compliance from the FOIA officer’s perspective.
- To hear from witnesses that use FOIA in news reporting, academic research, and to conduct government oversight.
- To hear from the witnesses tasked with implementing FOIA at several agencies that need to improve response efforts.
- Enacted in 1966, FOIA is a transparency tool for individuals to ensure government accountability. Under FOIA, requesters may ask federal agencies for information about any matter. An agency has 20 business days to respond to a request (and an additional ten days for unusual circumstances) and must release non-exempt records to the requester.
- In Fiscal Year 2014, the federal government received 714,231 FOIA requests. The backlog of FOIA cases that had not been processed within the statutory time limit increased by 67 percent to a total of 159,741 backlogged cases.
- Ms. Sharyl Attkisson, Investigative Reporter
- Mr. Jason Leopold, Investigative Reporter , Vice News
- Mr. David E. McCraw, VP and Assistant General Counsel, New York Times
- Ms. Leah Goodman, Investigative Reporter, Newsweek
- Mr. Terry Anderson, Honorary Chairman, Committee to Protect Journalists
- Mr. Tom Fitton, President, Judicial Watch
- Ms. Cleta Mitchell, Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP
- Mr. Nate Jones, Director of the Freedom of Information Act Project, National Security Archive
- Ms. Lisette Garcia, FOIA Resource Center
- Mr. Gabriel Rottman, Legislative Counsel/Policy Advisor, American Civil Liberties Union
- Ms. Anne Weismann, Executive Director, Campaign for Accountability
- Ms. Karen Neuman, Chief Privacy Officer/Chief FOIA Officer, Department of Homeland Security
- Ms. Joyce A. Barr, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Administration/Chief FOIA Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Ms. Melanie Ann Pustay, Director, Office of Information Policy, Department of Justice
- Ms. Mary Howard, Director Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, IRS
- Mr. Brodi Fontenot, Assistant Secretary for Management/Chief FOIA Officer, Department of Treasury