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Open Government Act of 2007

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Location: Washington, DC

OPEN GOVERNMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - December 18, 2007)

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. I thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Davis) not only for yielding me time, but also for his favorable mention a few minutes ago when he was speaking.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007.

This legislation gives the public more information and better insight into the workings of the government by strengthening the Freedom of Information Act, called FOIA. FOIA performs a vital check and balance on the Federal branch. It protects our open system of government and ensures that the government responds as it should to the American people. Unfortunately, the process for obtaining information is overly burdensome and Federal agencies have become less and less responsive to the requests for information. This deters citizens from obtaining information to which they are entitled.

Taxpayers should have the opportunity to obtain information from the Federal Government quickly and easily. This legislation contains several provisions similar to those in a bill I introduced last March. These include provisions regarding recovery of attorneys' fees, penalties for agencies that do not comply within the specified FOIA time limits, and additional agency reporting requirements.

I am pleased that the bill under consideration today creates a more open government without threatening national security or invading personal privacy. The ability to obtain records from the Federal Government is one of the fundamental rights of the American people. When the government closes the doors on information, the people cannot monitor their government. Democracy is based on the people's right to know. That is why I support the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill rightly makes it easier for citizens to get answers to their requests for information, and that's why I hope all of my colleagues will support it.

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