[govinfo] your letters needed on H.R. 1309, Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:29:52 -0500

I apologize for any duplicates you receive of this request. 

We are seeking to get lots of letters to the House supporting H.R. 1309, 
Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007 
[http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h1309_ih.xml] 

Below is some sample language from which you can pick and choose, add your own 
examples and timeless prose.

We would like to have letters arrive by noon Tuesday. 

Letters should be sent (fax) to Rep. Clay as  the principle sponsor of the bill 
and people can send pdf  copies (their request) to Tony Haywood at 
tony.haywood@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

                  FAX: (202) 226-3717 (DC)
                FAX: (314) 367-1341  (St. Louis City Office)

Please do not send them to me. I will not be in the office Monday and they will 
not get to the Hill. And it is better for that they are received directly from 
you -- not through a 3rd party.

Thank you. And please excuse any duplicate messages you receive.

Patrice McDermott, Director
OpenTheGovernment.org
1742 Connecticut Ave NW, 3rd floor
Washington, DC 20009
202.332.OPEN (6736)
www.openthegovernment.org

H.R. 1309, Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007
Reps. William "Lacy" Clay (D-MO), Todd Platts (R-PA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA) 

I/We am/are writing to endorse the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 
2007 (H.R. 1309).          

FOIA’s promise of ensuring an open and accountable government has been 
terribly undermined by the excessive processing delays experienced by all 
manner of FOIA requesters. [USE YOUR OWN EXAMPLES AND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE]

– The bill would reduce delays in agency processing of Freedom of Information 
Act  (FOIA) requests by: 

clarifying that FOIA requesters who are forced to bring legal action to push an 
agency to respond are entitled to become eligible to collect attorneys’ fees 
when their suit is successful or is a catalyst for a change in the agency’s 
position (the agency changes its position prior to judgment and releases 
documents) [Sec. 4] 

requiring detailed and comparable data on processing times to be reported to 
Congress and the public [Sec. 9] 

preventing agencies from charging processing fees whenever they failed to meet 
the 20-working day response deadline [Sec. 6]. 

FOIA programs throughout the government are plagued by inefficiency and lack of 
commitment to openness.  [USE YOUR OWN EXAMPLES AND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE]

– The bill would improve customer service and accountability by 
requiring agencies to establish FOIA hotlines and tracking systems [Sec. 7]

requiring the additional annual reporting [Sec. 9]

ensuring agencies specify the exemption relied upon for any redaction in a 
released document [newly added provision]

The principles embodied by FOIA are to make the government, in President Lyndon 
B. Johnson’s words, as open as the security of the nation permits.  [USE YOUR 
OWN FAVORITE FOIA QUOTE]

Federal agencies have come to look on FOIA requests as something to be 
prevented and obstructed.  

– The bill would improve prompt resolution of FOIA disputes without 
litigation by

creating an independent ombudsman to mediate FOIA disputes and by 

clarifying the right of FOIA requesters to collect attorneys’ fees for 
successful litigation [Sec. 11]

– It also would create a presumption of openness –  
what Congress always intended

what President Johnson described when he signed the FOIA into law in 1966

ensure that FOIA’s carefully prescribed exemptions to disclosure are used to 
protect the nation and not to protect against disclosure of information that is 
embarrassing to the government [Sec. 8, 10, 14]

Thank you for your efforts to strengthen the accountability of our government 
agencies.

Sincerely, 
    

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