FOIA at Forty

The fortieth anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by President Johnson on July 4, 1966, was marked with the release of several interesting and informative publications.

The colorful and contentious history behind the adoption of the Act was described by Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive based on documents obtained from the Johnson Library. See “Freedom of Information at 40.” The legislative history of the Freedom of Information Act is newly available from the National Security Archive here.

The FOIA improvement plans that were recently developed by executive branch agencies were critically assessed by OpenTheGovernment.org in a new report. See “FOIA’s 40th Anniversary: Agencies Respond to the President’s Call for Improved Disclosure of Information.”

“The federal government continues to fall further behind in getting information to people seeking public records under the Freedom of Information Act,” according to a study (pdf) by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government. “By far the heaviest use of the Freedom of Information Act comes from the nation’s businesses, seeking government records on contracts or for a host of other commercial uses,” another Coalition report found.

Sixty-eight countries now have freedom of information statutes, according to an updated survey by David Banisar published by freedominfo.org. See “Freedom of Information Around the World 2006.”

I chatted yesterday with reporter Julie Corwin of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about “40 Years Of The Freedom Of Information Act”.

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