FOIA finally a Reality!

In Association News On

National Newspaper Association (NNA) president Steve Haynes, publisher of The Oberlin (KS) Herald, praised President Bush’s decision to sign the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007 (S 2448), providing much-needed amendments to the federal Freedom of Information Act.
 
“NNA appreciates the President’s recognition of the need for improvement of the Freedom of Information Act," Haynes said, "and we thank the tireless efforts of those in Congress who sought to ensure this legislation was passed in 2007. An open and transparent government is the bedrock of an effective democracy, and this bill will ensure that access to information remains in the hands of the citizens.”
 
The bill, passed by Congress at the end of the session and signed into law by the President on Dec. 31, is the first meaningful amendment to the Freedom of Information Act in over a decade.
 
The legislation creates an ombudsman office to act as a mediator between people asking for information and the agency to facilitate requests in an efficient and timely manner. NNA intends to play an active role in helping to shape this new office to ensure this is a useful tool for all citizens dealing with the government.
 
Additionally, the law provides for a tracking system for requests, requires agencies to be more accountable for monitoring requests and responses, and awards attorneys fees if a citizen is forced to sue to receive "nonsensitive" information.
 
This landmark legislation solidifies the work to secure changes to the law over the past two Congresses by NNA and nine other journalism groups that comprise the Sunshine in Government Initiative. See www.sunshineingovernment.org.

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