A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders on government oversight issues has asked the GAO to examine federal agency compliance with 2016 changes to the Freedom of Information Act.
Some agencies are not fully implementing the 2016 law and continue to burden requesters with unlawful delays and denials,” their request said. Among other provisions, that law created a presumption of openness, allowing agencies to withhold records only when there is foreseeable harm to an interest protected by an exemption or a legal requirement preventing their release.
In a prior report, the GAO found that 18 agencies had implemented only half of the FOIA requirements reviewed, and several agencies had backlogs of more than 1,000 requests.
The legislators asked GAO to report on whether agencies have updated their FOIA guidelines to include the requirements of the 2016 law; their timeliness in responding to requests; their use of the exemptions to disclosure; how they determine whether requests merit waiver of fees; and their compliance with requirements to proactively release information that may be in the public interest.