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President Obama signed the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 on June 30, 2016 and announced new transparency steps.

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Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the bill in February 2015. It passed the Senate in March 2016 and the House of Representatives on June 13. The bill had three Democratic and two Republican co-sponsors. In a statement, Obama thanked members of Congress for coming together to pass the FOIA Improvement Act.

Changes introduced:

  • Requires federal agencies to make all disclosable records and documents available for public inspection in an electronic format and prohibits agencies from restricting documents without a foreseeable cause of harm.
  • Approves the launch of a consolidated FOIA request portal in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others.
  • Formalizes existing meetings of the Chief FOIA Officers Council and tasks them with pinpointing and addressing the biggest difficulties existing in the administration of the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Codifies the best practices for agencies to notify those who wish to mediate disputes after receiving adverse determinations on a request.
  • Sets a 90-day minimum for requesters to file FOIA appeals and determines that the deliberative process privilege does not apply to records created 25 years or more before the date the document is requested.

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