How Would You Modernize FOIA?

Have an idea for how to improve FOIA? Let us know! (NARA Identifier 521689)
Have an idea for how to improve FOIA? Let us know! (NARA Identifier 521689)

As we’ve noted previously, the United States is a part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global effort to make governments more open and accountable to the public.  Countries that participate in OGP are required to develop and carry out action plans that include concrete commitments to make the government—you guessed it—more open.

These plans are called National Action Plans and they generally include a range of commitments the government will carry out over a two-year period. The United States is reaching the halfway point of its second National Action Plan, and is already beginning to think about what should go into the third plan.

This is where we need your help.

As you might remember, the first two U.S. National Action Plans included commitments to modernize administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)— including one that led to the creation of the federal FOIA Advisory Committee. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with help from the General Services Administration, recently launched an effort using the collaborative web site hackpad to gather ideas from anyone inside or outside government about how we can continue to make FOIA work better. (You will need to create an account on that site before viewing and contributing to content on that platform.) Ideas can also be submitted via Twitter to @OpenGov or email to

A number of factors will go into the final decision about what commitments make it into the third National Action Plan. We encourage you to read OSTP’s blog post to learn more about OGP and OSTP’s guidance on commitments.

2 thoughts on “How Would You Modernize FOIA?

  1. I would institute a mandatory $5 (individual) or $10 (business or non-profit) fee for each FOIA request, whether or not the requester is granted a waiver or reduction of processing fees. This money would not go into the general fund of the Treasury, but specifically be earmarked to help fund agency FOIA programs throughout the federal government. FOIA compliance is important, but it financially impacts all agencies, and requesters who are repeatedly granted blanket fee waivers are essentially getting a “free ride”. Asking them to pay a mandatory $5 or $10 is not burdensome, especially when some non-profit organizations have operating budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

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