Smith Introduces Open Government Act
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced the "Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007," which improves public access to information by strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
"This bill makes it easier for citizens to get an answer to their requests for information," Congressman Smith said.
"Unfortunately, the process for obtaining government information is overly burdensome and federal agencies have become less and less responsive to requests for information," Smith noted. "This deters the citizens from getting information to which they are entitled.
"Taxpayers should have the opportunity to obtain information quickly and easily from the federal government," said Smith
The OPEN Act does the following:
- Creates a broader definition of "news media" so that additional types of news media can obtain government documents at minimal cost.
- Establishes a system that assigns individualized tracking numbers to requests for information so individuals can track their own requests.
- Includes provisions regarding recovery of attorneys' fees when an individual has been wrongly denied information, penalties for agencies that do not comply within the specified FOIA time limits, and additional agency reporting requirements.
"I want to protect our open system of government and ensure that the government responds to the American people," Smith concluded.