Fierce Government has this report on the first meeting of the FOIA Advisory Committee which is administered through NARA. The committee is made up of government employees and members of the public and is seeking ways to improve the FOIA process.
The American Society of Access Professionals is presenting a FOIA/Privacy Act Workshop in Chicago in September! The workshop will present a detailed overview of the basics of both the FOIA and the Privacy Act. I'm going to be one of the instructors and I really hope to see as many of my readers there as possible.
Registration is now underway at ASAP. Hurry as space is limited!
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and John Cornyn (R-Tx) have introduced bipartisan FOIA amendments that incorporate a number of items meant to increase government transparency. Of note the legislation has a sunset for Exemption 5 withholdings of 25 years and a balancing test in the Exemption itself for otherwise exempt material. Here's a link to Leahy's press release with links to both the legislation and a fact sheet on the legislation.
Earlier this year the House passed its own FOIA amendments, which were different than the legislation introduced in the Senate.
The New York Times reports on the release of the DOJ memo on drone strikes against American citizens despite the government's ongoing arguments that the material was covered by Exemption 5 of the FOIA.
Maybe this release will show DOJ that its better to follow the President's policy on FOIA and releasing as much information as possible rather than forcing his administration to fight its own policy.
Blogcritic writes about a lawsuit against the BOP brought by a nonprofit called Prisology that seeks to change the agency's FOIA practices. Federal Courts are usually not inclined to look under the hood of FOIA Operations so it will interesting if the lawsuit gets any traction.
Federal News Radio interviewed Ginger McCall of EPIC about the FOIA and proposed changes coming from the administration and Congress to fix FOIA problems. While Ginger is from the requester community, she speaks strongly on behalf of the need to fully fund and back FOIA Operations in the agencies. The interview can be found here.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court asking it to review lower court decisions that allowed the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel to withhold and keep secret OLC's legal opinions on allowing the government to obtain phone records without any legal process.
Just because the lower court's affirmed the government's position doesn't mean that the case will sail through the Supreme Court and be affirmed. The last major FOIA case at the Supreme Court concerned the use of Exemption 2 - and overrruled goverment practices that had been in operation for over 25 years. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will be interesting to see where that body takes it.
The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors has moved to intervene in a FOIA lawsuit brought by the Center for Auto Safety. GM seeks the intervention so that it can assist the government in the claim that many of the documents that pertain to the GM bankruptcy at issue contain GM's confidential business information. If the intervention is permitted, GM will back up the government's Exemption 4 withholdings of certain documents with its own declarations supporting the exemption claim.