Congress Clears, Obama Signs Open FOIA Act

November 18, 2009

The days of Congress drilling obscure loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act may … just may … be over. President Obama signed into law October 28, 2009, language requiring Congress henceforth to specifically declare every new FOIA exemption it creates by law.

Known as the "Open FOIA Act," the bill (S 612) requires future bills passed by Congress to specifically cite the section of the US Code containing FOIA whenever they create a new exemption to it by statute. Congress has not always done so in the past. The requirement in theory makes it impossible to sneak secrecy provisions through when nobody is watching.

The legislative language of the Open FOIA Act was included in the fiscal 2009 Homeland Security appropriations bill (HR 2892).