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Bush signs FOIA reform bill into law

President George Bush signed S. 2488, the OPEN Government Act of 2007, into law on New Year's Eve.

Introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Tx., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Jon Kyl, R-Az., S. 2488 is the first major reform to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since its inception more than three decades ago. 

Cornyn has been a longtime advocate of implementing FOIA reforms to address agency delays and litigation concerns under the Freedom of Information Act.  

As Texas Attorney General, he led efforts to reform the Texas Public Information Act and implemented changes to improve the operations of the Attorney General's Open Records division.

The OPEN Government Act would:

  • Restore meaningful deadlines for agency action under FOIA
  • Impose real consequences on federal agencies for missing FOIA's 20-day statutory deadline by creating penalties for agencies that fail to follow FOIA deadlines
  • Clarify that FOIA applies to government records held by outside private contractors
  • Establish a FOIA hotline service for all federal agencies
  • Create a FOIA Ombudsman to provide FOIA requestors and federal agencies with a meaningful alternative to costly litigation
  • Make it easier to recover attorney's fees when requesters are forced to file suit to get records
  • Create a tracking system for individual information requests

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