FOIA has the most patriotic of birthdays — July 4, 1966. Last year we commemorated FOIA’s birthday by looking back at the unusual circumstances of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the law and noted that despite a shaky start, FOIA has become part of the foundation of our democracy.
We toast FOIA’s 46th birthday by focusing on the many exciting things that have happened this year such as the development of the FOIA IT Working Group, the Office of Personnel Management’s new job series for FOIA professionals, and the significant progress in making the FOIA Module a reality. We are also celebrating FOIA by looking ahead to what we can expect over the next year, such as more clarification on how best to search for immigration records and further multi-stakeholder discussions on the administration of FOIA. However, I don’t think we could acknowledge the importance of FOIA’s birthday as well as Senator Patrick Leahy did in the statement his office released last week. We are so glad that Senator Leahy mentioned the FOIA Module, which we agree has the potential to greatly simplify the process for requesters and agencies. Senator Leahy also discusses some interesting issues facing FOIA’s future, such as the Faster FOIA Act and Congress’s consideration of FOIA exemptions in the context of cybersecurity legislation.
There is no doubt that the administration of FOIA can improve — in fact, we have an entire web page dedicated to that concept, and we invite you to submit your suggestions — and that there will continue to be challenges to address in implementing FOIA. However, in its 47th year, we fully expect that FOIA will continue to grow and evolve along with our nation and will greet whatever the year has in store with openness!
We at OGIS are grateful for Senator Leahy’s thoughtful statement on FOIA’s future. Thank you, Senator, and happy birthday, FOIA!