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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Will Justice Department Oppose Needed Freedom of Information Act Reforms?

It appears the Department of Justice will come out today against the proposed Open Government Act of 2005 introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, with co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT. While it preserves essential national security, law enforcement and commercial/individual privacy exceptions, the Cornyn-Leahy proposal provides a series of much-needed reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the way federal bureaucrats administer the 1966 Freedom of Information Act.

During his Senate confirmation hearings, Attorney-General Albert Gonzalez told Cornyn he would work with the Texas senator on the FOIA reform process, so if the rumors of DOJ opposition prove true, what will it say about the trustworthiness of the nation's top legal officer?

In any case, I will be among those testifying at the hearing later today of the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability. My testmony will be essentially the same as I delivered before Cornyn's Senate subcommittee earlier this year, but with some additional comments on the increased need for transparency in government as a result of the Internet becoming the nation's dominant communications media. You can read the previous testimony here.