November 2, 2011
The Obama administration wants to make it tougher for Americans to obtain government records by offering agencies more opportunities to deny Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The Department of Justice has proposed 15 rule changes to the FOIA, which collectively represent a “huge step back for transparency,” says the Sunlight Foundation.
Among the amendments are changes that would allow federal offices to:
· deny requests that aren’t addressed to precisely the correct department (16.3 (a))
· summarily dismiss requests if they deem the wording too vague (16.3 (c))
· hide what part of the agency is responsible for filling requests (16.4 (e))
· reset their deadlines for responses any time they refer requests among departments (16.5 (a))
· make it more difficult for requests to be deemed urgent (16.5 (e))
· lie, and claim records do not exist, when they do (16.6 (f))
· make it easier for businesses to declare that information is a trade secret (16.7)
· disqualify most schools from getting FOIA fees waived (16.9(a)(4))