Saturday, March 17, 2007

Peter King is Afraid of YOU, Votes Against the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007

Congress passed HR1309, the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007 without Peter Kings vote. The vote was 308 - 177.
He voted NAY on a bill that would expand YOUR rights to access government information.
Isn't it sad that YOUR representative doesn't want YOU to be able to find out what he has been up to?
"H.R.1309

Title: To promote openness in Government by strengthening section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act), and for other purposes. "

Sounds pretty good to me. Why not Peter King?
Maybe King didn't like the fact that a little blogger like me has more access now...

Section 552(a)(4)(A)(ii) of title 5, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`In making a determination of a representative of the news media under subclause (II), an agency may not deny that status solely on the basis of the absence of institutional associations of the requester, but shall consider the prior publication history of the requester. Prior publication history shall include books, magazine and newspaper articles, newsletters, television and radio broadcasts, and Internet publications. If the requestor has no prior publication history or current affiliation, the agency shall consider the requestor's stated intent at the time the request is made to distribute information to a reasonably broad audience.'."

The long and short of it is that King opposes YOUR right to know.

Check out http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=120 for some interesting background on the bill.
"File Not Found: Agencies Violate Law on Online Information
National Security Archive report - March 12, 2007


Ten years after Congress enacted the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (E-FOIA), only one in five federal agencies actually complies with the law, according to a new survey released today during Sunshine Week by the National Security Archive.

Passed in 1996 and effective in 1997, E-FOIA ordered federal agencies to post key records online, provide citizens with detailed guidance on making information requests, and use new information technology to publish information proactively. The act’s intent: Expand public access and reduce the burden of FOIA requests.

But most federal agencies do not follow the law, according to the National Security Archive’s government-wide audit, “File Not Found,” conducted with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Open Government Survey systematically reviewed agency Web sites to cover all 91 federal agencies that have Chief FOIA Officers and the additional 58 agency components each of which handles more than 500 FOIA requests a year."

"Bush Administration FOIA Report Card Hits New Low
Mark Fitzgerald, Editor & Publisher - February 27, 2007


Back in December of 2005 with the White House coming under increasing criticism for its secrecy, President George W. Bush ordered federal agencies to speed up their responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

A new FOIA report card by a coalition of journalists groups makes it clear that Bush’s directive did not produce a “surge” in the response rate by the agencies.

The study by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government concludes the Bush directive did nothing to speed up responses by agencies that have been systematically cutting back the personnel assigned to FOIA work, even as backlogs of requests grow and the cost of fulfilling requests increases.

“Requests remain heavily backlogged,” the study says. “Requesters still have long wait times for a response from many agencies. And people seeking records and information remain less likely to get the information they seek than in the past.”

The coalition assembled the FOIA performance reports from 15 Cabinet-level departments and 15 agencies dating back to 1998, when agency reporting was first required. The 13 agencies that had reported 2006 performance by Feb. 9 were also included in the study.

Overall, the groups said, FOIA performance remains at the lowest point since 1998."