Ensuring Transparency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: June 2, 2015 2:00 pm 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

HEARING PURPOSE:

  • To examine the use of FOIA requests as a tool for government transparency and explore barriers to accessing public documents from the user’s perspective. The Committee will hear from witnesses that use FOIA in news reporting, academic research, and to conduct government oversight.

HEARING BACKGROUND:

  • Enacted in 1966, FOIA is a transparency tool for individuals to ensure government accountability. Under FOIA, requesters may ask federal agencies for information about any matter. An agency has 20 business days to respond to a request (and an additional ten days for unusual circumstances) and must release non-exempt records to the requester.
  • In Fiscal Year 2014, the federal government received 714,231 FOIA requests. The backlog of FOIA cases that had not been processed within the statutory time limit increased by 67 percent to a total of 159,741 backlogged cases.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Sharyl Attkisson Investigative Reporter Panel I Document
Jason Leopold Investigative Reporter Vice News Panel I Document
David E. McCraw VP Assistant General Counsel New York Times Panel I Document
Leah Goodman Investigative Reporter Newsweek Panel I Document
Terry Anderson Adjunct Professor University of Florida Panel I Document
Tom Fitton President Judicial Watch Panel II Document
Cleta Mitchell Partner Foley & Lardner LLP Panel II Document
Nate Jones Director of the Freedom of Information Act Project National Security Archive Panel II Document
Lisette Garcia FOIA Resource Center Panel II Document
Gabriel Rottman Legislative Counsel/Policy Advisor American Civil Liberties Union Panel II Document
Anne Weismann Executive Director Campaign for Accountability Panel II Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Chairman Chaffetz Opening Statement Document
FOIA Memo Document
White House Counsel Memo Document