(Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is supposed to guarantee prompt responses from the government to information requests, turned 45 last week. However, the 2011 Knight Open Government Survey showed that some federal agencies have been letting requests languish for years – including a request to the National Archives dating back to 1991.
FOIA, which President Johnson signed into law in 1966, dictates that government agencies process and respond to requests within 20 days, with a possible 10-day extension to accommodate “unusual circumstances.” However, according to the 2011 Knight Open Government Survey, eight federal agencies have requests that date back more than a decade, demonstrating that the government still has a long way to go before it successfully fulfills the terms of its own law.
“We need public information, just like we need freedom of speech or freedom of the press,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation. “In order to be great citizens, we need to know something about what we’re voting about, we need to know how our government is working.”
In order to test which government agencies were responding promptly to FOIA requests, the National Security Archive ...