Scott A. Hodes highlights the recent introduction of legislation that would eliminate the FOIA shield for the Smithsonian Institute, and the continued lack of transparency when dealing with other federal agencies.
Following up on the passage earlier this year of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, FOIA expert Scott A. Hodes make two proposals absent from the law, but which would help FOIA requesters.
Scott A. Hodes makes the case that there should be a reporting requirement for all FOIA lawsuits requiring agencies to inform a central FOIA Office the outcome of FOIA lawsuits.
Scott A. Hodes contends that FOIA Office personnel are often inadequately trained and overworked, resulting in responses that reflect inconsistent quality and that are often not timely. His recommendations include thorough training programs and the creation of a specific FOIA job category.
Scott A. Hodes contends that Congress must actively use its oversight role to ensure that the new FOIA law, and the FOIA and other disclosure laws that are already on the books, are actively followed and funded.
Now that Congress has passed and the President has signed the FOIA Amendments known as the OPEN Government Act of 2007, many wonder what the new law does and doesn’t do for FOIA requesters. Scott A. Hodes reviews the major provisions of the new law and how it will or won’t affect FOIA requesters.
According to Scott A. Hodes, there has been much talk of new laws and initiatives to make FOIA friendlier to the public. As 2008 begins, the OPEN Government Act of 2007 becomes law, but much work in this area remains ahead.
According to Scott A. Hodes, bringing a FOIA case often results in a more timely release of information, more information being released then the agency would have released if it wasn’t in litigation and more information going to the requester about agency decisions and withheld documents.
Scott A. Hodes suggests making your requests as broad as possible at the outset, and provide as much information about the topic as possible. This will assist in expediting the processing of your request.
Scott A. Hodes recommends that to secure a successful outcome it is important to make FOIA requests not only to FBI Headquarters, but to FBI Field Offices.