National Press Club

FOIA Letter to Senators Reid and McConnell

May 22, 2007

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
S-230
Washington, DC 20510

May 22, 2007

Dear Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:

Please add the voice of the National Press Club to those who have already expressed so well their support for S. 849, the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act, known as the OPEN Government Act. We respectfully urge the Senate to act quickly on passage of this important, bipartisan reform to the Freedom of Information Act. A similar measure has already passed the House by a 308-117 vote.

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, is a vital tool to ensuring the public's access to its government. The law, however, has not kept pace with the times; S. 849 would be the first revision to the 40-year-old FOIA in more than a decade. Unfortunately, as reported in studies by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, FOIA response backlogs are increasing and requestors are waiting longer than ever for information.

The series of reforms proposed in the OPEN Government Act would substantially help improve this process. Among the benefits would be tracking numbers enabling requestors to check their progress online, increased accountability - and consequences where appropriate - for FOIA actions, and the creation of an ombudsman to assist requestors in the FOIA process.

Our democracy is built on the public's involvement in its government. The Freedom of Information Act is one tool by which all people - not just journalists - can exercise their responsibility to engage in this process. As such, the National Press Club encourages passage of much-needed reform in the form of S. 849, the OPEN Government Act.

Sincerely,

John M. Donnelly
Vice President, National Press Club, Washington, DC
Board Liaison, NPC Freedom of the Press Committee

cc: The Honorable Patrick Leahy
The Honorable Arlen Specter