The U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan bill that seeks to amend the Freedom of Information Act and is sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn and Patrick Leahy and co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, Chris Coons, Debra Fischer and Jon Tester.
The FOIA Improvement Act requires government agencies to adopt a default response to release and not withhold government documents, a release published Tuesday on Grassley’s website said.
If signed into law, the bill will lift the government’s ability to withhold documents that reflect its decision-making process after a sunset period of 25 years, the release noted.
It added that provisions include requiring agencies to publicly release documents that have been requested three or more times; granting additional independence to the Government Information Services and enabling technology that work to process information requests.
“The people have a right to know what their government is up to, but we often hear about how federal agencies are either slow to respond to records requests or even look for ways to avoid disclosing public records,” Grassley said.
“Transparency leads to accountability, and we can all agree that more accountability in government is a good thing.”
The Iowa senator further noted during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday the bill’s passage coincides with the annual government transparency event, Sunshine Week, which began on Sunday.