Professor Annmarie Bridy discusses the use of “transparency” as a metaphor for openness in government, the use of FOIA as a mechanism for ensuring such openness, and the ways in which proponents of greater public involvement in policy-making may disserve the cause by focusing too single-mindedly on access to information and the right to know, both of which are operationalized through FOIA.
Forensic intelligence analyst, legal adviser, lecturer, FOIA and Web expert, and Publisher of the Fringe journals (Dutch), Roger Vleugels has published his Summary of 2011 Update indicating that 88 countries now have a FOIA in power. This reflects 7 more than in last year’s update: El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia.
Scott A. Hodes notes that in the current Congress there are bills pending that would create a commission to come up with ideas for faster FOIA processing. He contends that by taking those ideas, along with a few days of congressional oversight hearings to solicit other opinions, Congress would have ample information to create an actual bill that would implement faster FOIA processing now rather than wait for a “commission” to come up with these same ideas.
Senators Patrick Leahy and John Cornyn have introduced a bill establishing a committee of citizens to make recommendations on improving FOIA performance. A similar version of this bill was introduced in 2005 and went nowhere fast, according to Scott A. Hodes.
Requesters who are new to using the FOIA statute often complain that they have filed a request within the last month but haven’t receive their documents yet. FOIA expert Scott A. Hodes explains that the congressional budgeting process does not specifically provide FOIA operations within an agency a set line item amount. Thus, FOIA Offices usually have limited resources from within their own agencies to fulfill requests.
Public interest law advocate Diana Philip’s commentary focuses specifically on the multifaceted, complex and challenging issues that encompass the dichotomy between reproductive health care and rights available to adult pregnant women and pregnant minors. Diana’s position includes references to seminal legal cases as well as to selected scholarly literature in the field of juvenile reproductive health.
Scott A. Hodes comments on the Obama administrations’ decision to continue to fight the release of detainee photos.
Now that both the President and Attorney General have weighed in with FOIA Memorandum, Scott A. Hodes provides us with the procedural steps that will result within agencies, and the effect the memos will have on the nine FOIA exemptions.
Scott A. Hodes discusses two sections (Section 6 and 7) of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 that just went into effect, and the problems that will be encountered by requesters trying to use them to their advantage.
Scott A. Hodes comments on the limited availability of training in this critical area, and identifies providers in the private and public sectors.