The Future of FOIA and Open Government

Speaking of anniversaries, this July 4, we didn’t just celebrate the 240th birthday of the Declaration of Independence; we also celebrated the 50th birthday of the Freedom of Information Act, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law on July 4, 1966.

To honor the occasion, the Washington Post penned a pithy homage to this engine of open government that helps define what democracy means in the modern world.

The Post also reported, as did others, that the FOIA’s golden birthday coincided with President Obama’s signing into law the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, a bipartisan effort to update and improve the statute going forward.

We’ve got a ways to go, still, no doubt. In practice, you don’t always get the documents you want. You often don’t get them on time, and you may not get them in their full, unredacted form. You may have to fight like hell for them, and you may have to sue.

So the statute isn’t perfect, that’s for sure.

But for the moment, let’s blow out these fifty candles and wish for many, many more.

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