Friday, March 20, 2009

Presumed Open Until You Hear Otherwise

Friday, March 20, 2009

reporters committee press release

Attorney General Eric Holder brightened up Sunshine Week with his announcement yesterday that "government agency records should be presumed public," according to MF grantee Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP). This guidance stands in stark contrast to the Bush Administration's previous policy that favored withholding information it considered senstive or classified.

The highlights of Holder's memo - as stated by RCFP - include:

  • FOIA denials will only be defended if an agency "reasonably foresees that the disclosure would harm an interest" protected by one of the exemptions to release or if it is prohibited by law;
  • Agencies must be "fully accountable" for administering FOIA. He said each agency's Chief FOIA Officer must ensure compliance with the law and "recommend adjustments to agency practices, personnel, and funding" as needed;
  • Agencies should "readily and systematically post information online in advance of any public request"; and
  • FOIA professionals within the agencies are "equally important" to any other component of application and accountability to FOIA and should have "full support" from their agencies as well as "the tools they need to respond promptly and efficiently to FOIA requests."

For more on the memo, visit RCFP's site at:

To see Holder's memo, check out:

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