ASAP is holding a training for records managment for FOIA professionals and others on December 11. This one day training is very important to those involved in access and records issues and is centrally located at the National Archives and Records Administration, steps from the White House and Capitol.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed amendments to the FOIA today. The proposed law creates a 25 year limit on Exemption 5 and other language on the use of Exemption 5. The bill passing the committee did strip out the statutory use of the foreseeable harm test that was in the original proposal. The National Security Archive has more on the bill.
The next step is that the full Senate must vote on it; after that it must be reconciled with a House bill that passed earlier this year. And as I've said before, the clock is ticking on the congressional calendar.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda for Nov. 20, 2014 has the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 set for discussion. The mark up of the bill has been postponed twice; if it doesn't get through the committee tommorow, chances are that its done for this session. If it gets through the committee it will then go to the entire Senate; after passage it would need to be reconciled with the House version of the bill.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has this AP article in which a wind energy company has filed a reverse-FOIA case in federal district court arguing that information about bird deaths in its facilities is confidential business information that should be protected pursuant to FOIA Exemption 4. The government disagrees and wants to release the information. A court will now have to decide if the material, which the company argues was voluntarily submitted to the government meets the requirements of confidential business information of it needs to be released pursuant to a FOIA request.
Government Attic has received documents concerning DOJ's take on various legislation. One of the documents is the DOJ position on the 2007 FOIA amendments, which created the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). To say that DOJ was not a fan of the creation of this office is an understatement. The letter is the fourth letter in this set of documents.
This letter is relevant as the FOIA legislation before Congress also has additional responsibilities for OGIS.
Earlier this week, the Hill reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee would mark up the bill amending the FOIA today, Nov. 13, 2014. I have learned that today's mark up session has been postponed and will now be held next week.
Senator Leahy, the Committee's chair issued the following statement:
“I have worked with Senator Cornyn for months on the FOIA Improvement Act. It has broad bipartisan support, including the support of Ranking Member Grassley. Because of scheduling challenges in the Senate this Thursday, we are likely to hold the Committee markup off the floor this week. This FOIA bill should be debated in full public view, and so we will hold over our legislation this week so all members and the public can participate in this important debate. I expect the Judiciary Committee will approve our bipartisan legislation next week when the Committee meets at its regularly-scheduled time.”
While the Senator still expects the bill to be approved so it can go to the full Senate, the current legislative session still only has a few days remaining, so it remains to be seen if this bill, which would have to be still reconciled with the House bill, becomes law.
The American Society for Access Professionals has gone live with the December 11, 2014 Records Management Training to be held at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. Registration can be found here.
This is the last ASAP training session during my tenure as ASAP's President and I believe it will be one of the best - records managment is one FOIA issue that is sorely overlooked on a consistent basis.