Jul 6, 2016

Happy Birthday FOIA!

     The 4th of July of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). In a rare act of bipartisanship that has attracted almost no public attention, Congress passed important amendments to FOIA that are coming into effect this month. Here are some excerpts:
  • Search fees will no longer be assessed if an agency fails to meet the strict time limits set forth in FOIA unless the records requested exceed 5,000 pages. Since no agency is meeting the time limits, there will no longer be a search fees in most cases.
  • Agencies can no longer withhold documents under an FOIA exemption unless "the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption." An agency can't just come up with some halfway plausible argument for an exemption. They have to have an argument that there will actually be some public harm.
  • Agencies can no longer use the inter-agency or intra-agency exemption for documents more than 25 years old.
  • "Each agency shall designate a Chief FOIA Officer who shall be a senior official of such agency (at the Assistant Secretary or equivalent level)."
     FOIA doesn't have a special impact at Social Security. It's just that it's crucial for our system of government. There won't be a FOIA float at any 4th of July parade but it's an essential guarantee of our liberties.
     Making a FOIA request isn't difficult. You can do it online.


Anonymous said...

"FOIA does't have a special impact at Social Security."

Au contraire, trying to obtain information via FOIA pertaining to misconduct, wrongdoing, unfair labor practices, known cyber breaches, dysfunctional Agency policies, prohibited personnel practices, etc., have historically been almost impossible to obtain, or the Agency fails to adequately respond to the specific information requested. This based on my personal experiences and observations over many years.

Anonymous said...

I think SSA should now maintain all records on a private server in the bathroom of the commissioner and regularly purge all data not specifically and clearly marked classified. Individuals must maintain their own documentation of any and all SSA records and earnings and taxes paid, notarized, in triplicate, if called upon for any proof. FOIA issues resolved!