Leahy, Cornyn introduce Faster FOIA Act

Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) re-introduced a bill Wednesday that would attempt to address the backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests.

"While the Obama administration has made significant progress in improving the FOIA process, large backlogs remain a major roadblock to public access to information," Leahy said, referencing a report released this week that found only half of the federal agencies have updated their FOIA policies.

"In addition, 12 of the agencies surveyed by the National Security Archive had pending FOIA requests that were more than six years old, according to the report. Senator Cornyn and I believe that these delays are simply unacceptable. And that is why we are introducing this bill."

The Faster FOIA Act would establish an advisory panel to examine agencies' backlogs in processing FOIA requests and provide recommendations to Congress for action to accelerate the process.

“This bill helps bring our government one step closer to better transparency. This commission will identify methods to reduce delays in the processing of FOIA requests and ensure the efficient and equitable administration of FOIA throughout the federal government,” Cornyn said.

"It would be a great benefit to the American people, who deserve to be treated as valued customers when they seek answers from their government."

The bill's introduction was timed to coincide with the seventh annual Sunshine Week, which focuses on the importance of a transparency and open government.