(@averymorrow)

Records Management

Public FOIA archive on every agency website

In the United Kingdom, FOIA documents are not only sent to the researcher who asks for them, but posted publicly on agency websites. FOIA archives on British websites often serve as a sort of FAQ for people interested in the activities of an agency, and prevent unnecessary duplicate FOIA requests. It would require little to no effort for the United States to do the same thing. In fact, we could one-up the UK by creating... more »

Voting

216 votes
Active
(@stevenclift)

Legal & Policy Challenges

Place Everything Public Online Unless the Law Says Otherwise

Right now the discretion to place legally public government information online lies with agencies and not the law. Switch this premise around by adding a legal category that says, "public but online dissemination not required. If it is not limited by the law, then put it online for all by default. Period. This would not change access to legally protected/national security information. Piecemeal legislation to require... more »

Voting

140 votes
Active

Making Government Operations More Open

Transparency Ombudsman

Have some official with top secret clearance or higher serve as an information ombudsman to both receive requests (C-SPAN style) from the public, and double-check documents where federal agencies claim confidentiality or classification (the onus being on them to opt-in). I'm imagining a low-level cabinet official (maybe the head of a national FOIA library?) who has no influence except the threat of declassification,... more »

Voting

4 votes
Active

Making Data More Accessible

set a time limit for classification review on new classified records

Whenever a new classified record is created, the person classifying it should set a time limit for when the new record should have its classification level reviewed. There should be a reasonable coherent justification for keeping records classified for lengthy periods or indefinitely. There should also be a default time period for having classified records become automatically declassified. No records should be classified... more »

Voting

40 votes
Active
(@rstrother)

New Tools and Technologies

Centralized Digital System for FOIA Requests

The president should instruct the E-Government Administrator to implement a centralized digital system for Freedom of Information Act requests that interacts with each agency's FOIA office. Such a system could find and manage requests more efficiently and reduce the duplication of requests, since many requests, as well as any released documents, could be made publicly available through each agency’s online reading room.... more »

Voting

37 votes
Active
(@sunshineingovernmentinitiative)

Making Government Operations More Open

Direct agencies to use online communications tools to help resolve disputes over FOIA requests.

Direct agencies to use online communications tools to help resolve disputes over FOIA requests, including internal agency appeals processes and through mediation provided by the new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).

Voting

13 votes
Active
(@rstrother)

Legal & Policy Challenges

Make documents produced by government contractors in their role as gov't surrogates subject to FOIA

The president should direct agencies that when they outsource any of their duties, not limited to records management duties, the contracts should contain provisions specifying that the records produced by the company in its function as a government surrogate belong to the agency and available, as agency records, under FOIA. On Dec. 31, 2007, President Bush signed the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (S. 2488), which includes... more »

Voting

159 votes
Active
(@sunshineingovernmentinitiative)

Making Data More Accessible

Use their FOIA logs to identify types or categories of information & post that information online without waiting for a FOIA req

Instruct agencies to post more information online based on requests from the public and frequently requested categories of information requested under FOIA.

Voting

47 votes
Active

Making Government Operations More Open

Real penalties for agencies that violate FOIA time limits

Congress has set time limits for agencies to respond to FOIA requests, but many agencies deliberately flaunt these limits by failing to fund their FOIA offices, building up multi-year backlogs that serve the agency's desire to keep its operations secret. The courts let the agencies get away with it under a theory that they're doing the best they can. The FBI and NSA are two egregious exploiters, each of which lets FOIA... more »

Voting

50 votes
Active

Making Government Operations More Open

Prohibit agencies from canceling FOIA requests

Agencies regularly send out letters to requesters saying, "Your request has been pending for so long that we wonder if you still want us to answer it. If you don't reply, we will pretend you never filed this FOIA request." This lets them sneakily evade requests. It's fine for agencies to ask requesters if they'd like to voluntarily cancel their FOIA requests. What isn't fine is for agencies to cancel the requests... more »

Voting

89 votes
Active
(@nationalsecurityarchive)

Making Government Operations More Open

Government-wide Leadership, Implementation, and Enforcement on Transparency

For too long, access to information about government activities has risen and fallen with the whims of elected and appointed leaders. Agencies’ commitments to transparency vary widely. There is little sharing of best practices and virtually no Executive Branch oversight of the implementation of transparency policies. In order for the situation to improve, there must be one office designated to oversee these issues on... more »

Voting

39 votes
Active
(@nationalsecurityarchive)

Making Government Operations More Open

Implement E-FOIA’s Public Index Requirement to Start Making Sense of the Government’s Information Holdings

Transparency has been hindered by the inability of agencies to explain to the public what type of records they hold, such as by providing an index and description of major information systems, which is required by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), or through the Government Information Locator Systems (GILS) program. As a result, members of the public often do not know which agency has the information they need or... more »

Voting

46 votes
Active
(@nationalsecurityarchive)

Making Government Operations More Open

Identify Disclosure Priorities Using FOIA Trends

The Open Government Directive should establish a mechanism for setting information disclosure priorities. This process should be overseen by a responsible official within each agency, someone in a position to understand the broad scope of the agency’s information holdings. Several complementary approaches to identifying disclosure priorities make sense: • Agencies should first look at which records the public is already... more »

Voting

31 votes
Active
(@nationalsecurityarchive)

Making Government Operations More Open

Require Agencies to Affirmatively Disclose Information to the Public, as Mandated by E-FOIA

The Electronic Freedom of Information Act (E-FOIA) offers a starting point for affirmative and proactive government transparency efforts. The law requires agencies to make available online basic information about agency practices and policies and, most significantly, information requested or likely to be requested frequently under FOIA. Unfortunately, many agencies have not complied fully with E-FOIA, have interpreted... more »

Voting

88 votes
Active
(@sunshineingovernmentinitiative)

Legal & Policy Challenges

The administration should curb new exemptions from FOIA

According to government agencies themselves, every year federal departments and agencies cite roughly 140 statutes to deny thousands of requests for information; our coalition (the Sunshine in Government Initiative) estimates that more than 240 are on the books. The agencies themselves are often the originators of these new legislative loopholes. Recommendation: Any new statutory exemptions proposed or supported by... more »

Voting

92 votes
Active