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May 18, 2010


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If the agency exceeds a statutory time limit and no lawsuit was filed, it must justify the lateness with specificity in a public disclosure after every two weeks of lateness whether or not extensions were granted by the requester or be liable to the requester for a minimum of $200 per failure to properly justify the lateness. The GAO or other entity not connected to the agency will review disclosures upon request by a FOIA requester and order payment when appropriate. The reviewing entity's decision would be appealable to U.S. District Court.

If the agency exceeds a statutory time limit and is sued, it must justify the lateness with specificity in the pleading, whether or not disclosed pursuant to the above rule, whether or not extensions were granted by the requester, and whether or not the issue is raised in the complaint or face mandatory sanctions of at least $200.

If the agency's disclosures or pleadings pursuant to the above were inadequate in more than 25% of its FOIA requests in any 12 month period, $50,000 must be diverted from the salaries of agency employees, who will be identified by a special court, to the agency's FOIA program.

The public may request that an agency automatically publish specified types of documents that are periodically created by the agency, and the agency must publicly respond and justify its decision. Yearly reviews of these responses should be published by an entity not connected to the agencies.


Better yet: (1) eliminate fee waivers and the favored fee categories, and (2) extend the response period for requests involving "voluminous" records to 90 days.


I wouldn't have a problem with eliminating fee waivers but at the same time there should be an independent review of whether agencies have documents that should be published and orders to make agencies publish some of them. Not just Obama's guidance. But being over 100 years old doesn't make a document especially interesting and I wouldn't have agencies spend money to publish all of them. This and my other ideas are a little self serving because I'm having an issue that might not have been an issue if these ideas were implemented.

There's no limit to "voluminous" and there should be no limit to the amount of time agencies are given, as long as they really need it.

Basically, enforce the current laws and make the official recommendations into laws. _AT LEAST_ if it gets to court, the court shouldn't overlook an agency's lateness just because the documents were eventually released.


The one word answer: Funding.

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