Friday, March 18, 2005

US FOI developments

Interesting moves in the US to a Information Commissioner style system and I'd be interested to hear views on the tracking number system. Not sure how likely this is to get through the US legislative process.

Detriot free press -Two smart ideas to protect public access
"A few Republicans and Democrats in fractious Washington, D.C., have found something on which they can agree: strengthening the 1966 federal Freedom of Information Act. It's a worthy cause.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have proposed a bill to create an independent FOIA ombudsman to review disputes and suggest alternatives to costly litigation with the U.S. Justice Department.

A companion House bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would require government agencies to assign a tracking number to all FOIA requests within 10 days and to establish a phone number or Internet access to update the status and likely completion date. Agencies failing to respond within 20 days would lose all exemptions to FOIA requests except for information related to national security, personal privacy and proprietary challenges."

You can see the full Bill at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/FOIA/

See also: Business Week article

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