Groups push Senate for more open government

Letter to Sens. Reid, McConnell (.pdf)

Senate leaders received a letter today from 100 groups asking them to pass the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in Our National (OPEN) Government Act and restore confidence in government.

“The public’s confidence in the executive branch has reached a dramatic low point,” the groups said in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“The OPEN Government Act of 2007 would demonstrate bipartisan congressional leadership to restore public faith in government and to advance the ideals of openness that our democracy embodies,” according to the letter dated March 17.

The act would amend the Freedom of Information Act to minimize delays in making information available, while enhancing and expanding the accessibility and openness of departments and agencies. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill April 30. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), committee chairman, introduced it March 13.

On March 14, the House passed a companion bill, the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007, by a 308-117 vote.

The groups, which include the Project on Government Oversight and the National Treasury Employees Union, say the “FOIA’s promise of ensuring an open and accountable government has been seriously undermined by the excessive processing delays that FOIA requesters face across the government,” according to the letter.

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