On Thursday, May 27, the Senate passed the Faster FOIA Act of 2011 by unanimous consent.
The bill was sponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Cornyn (R-TX), Tester (D-MT), and Whitehouse (D-RI).
As Sen. Leahy said in his floor statement, “This important bill will establish a bipartisan commission to examine the root causes of agency delays in processing Freedom of Information Act — FOIA — requests, and to recommend to the Congress and the President steps to help eliminate FOIA backlogs.”
Leahy went on to say that “the commission created by the Faster FOIA Act will make key recommendations to Congress and the President for reducing impediments to the efficient processing of FOIA requests. The commission will also study why Federal agencies are more and more relying on FOIA exemptions to withhold information from the public. In addition, the commission will examine whether the current system for charging fees and granting fee waivers under FOIA should be modified. The commission will also be made up of government and non-governmental representatives with a broad range of experience related to handling FOIA requests.”
The bill is now in the House of Representatives and has been referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rep. Sherman [CA-27] has also introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1564.