News Releases

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Isakson Co-Sponsors Legislation to Strengthen 'Freedom Of Information Act'
'Open Government Vital to Healthy Democracy'  

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today announced that he will co-sponsor legislation to promote accountability, accessibility and openness in government by strengthening and enhancing the Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (FOIA).

The legislation, introduced last month by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), seeks to achieve meaningful reforms to FOIA and other federal government information laws. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has scheduled a hearing to examine the bill today.       

"Our government is not based on the need to know but the fundamental right to know. Open government is vital to a healthy democracy," Isakson said. "I am pleased to join Senators Cornyn and Leahy on this legislation to reinforce our national commitment to openness in government."

Specifically, the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2005 contains more than a dozen substantive provisions designed to strengthen FOIA and close loopholes as well as help those who request information from the federal government through FOIA to obtain timely responses to their requests. The provisions also give federal agencies strong incentives to act on FOIA requests in a timely manner and provide FOIA officials with all of the tools they need to ensure that our government remains open and accessible.

The legislation also calls for a hotline enabling citizens to track FOIA requests, including Internet tracking, and grants special FOIA fees for bloggers and writers for Internet outlets, providing them same status as traditional media.

Enacted in 1966, FOIA was designed to enable any person, individual or corporate regardless of citizenship, to request without explanation or justification access to existing, identifiable, unpublished executive branch agency records on any topic. Congress last approved major changes to FOIA nearly a decade ago.