Legislation That Invests in American Democracy

America seems to be at the dawn of a golden age of citizen-journalism, that great democratic tradition tracing its historical roots to our founding generation.  As the Internet matures and evolves, thousands of activists, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs continue to be empowered to scrutinize the operations of government and report back to their fellow citizens.  They often build on, borrow from, adapt or amplify the investigative work of traditional journalists, who are the backbone and basic muscle in enforcing the public’s right to know.

The investigative reporting of fiscal hawks, campaign finance watchdogs, and consumer advocates has increased in both quality and quantity in recent years.  American democracy can grow healthier as these 21st Century citizen-journalists (exemplified by the new generation of bloggers) contribute to the marketplace of ideas.  And we believe that open and transparent government is a key component to helping usher in the goals of more efficient, more responsive, and — ultimately — cleaner government.

Congress can and must do more to keep the windows open and the sunshine pouring in.  The President’s 2006 executive order on implementing the Freedom of Information Act was a necessary first step.  But the FOIA backlogs and other barriers to obtaining information remain, and this problem can and must be addressed by additional legislation.

Our bill, the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007 (“OPEN Government Act

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