Last evening, the House of Representatives passed amendments to the FOIA, many of which are very good. The Hill has more on the bill.
One thing the Hill doesn't discuss is that the amendments changes the attorney fees provision - from being discretionary to those who substantially prevail they are now mandatory. The problem is that the last FOIA amendments in 2006 took the payment of those attorneys fees from the Justice Fund for attorney fees and made them come out of FOIA office operating funds. The amendments do not change this - so if passed, any FOIA litigation that substantially prevails will be entitled to attorney fees coming directly out of agency FOIA operations. This may sound good in that those FOIA offices that are doing poorly will have an incentive to clean up their act; however, in reality it will likely mean that more money goes out to a few requesters who have sued, litigation increases and FOIA offices have to stop hiring and processing requests to make up the shortfall. Hopefully the Senate will look into this provision and make the necessary changes.