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New Guidelines Put Sunlight Back Into Government Information Access

Today Attorney General Eric Holder released new federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines that put sunlight back into the process of public access to government information. Holder’s memo encourages each federal agency to release information and not keep it secret “simply because it may do so legally.”

This is a tremendous move and is line with the transparency and open government suggestions we made to the Obama Transition Team.

The memo also rolls back the restrictive information policies put in place by former AG John Ashcroft.

Holder’s memo also reminds agency personnel that, by executive order, they are to “use modern technology to inform citizens what is known and done by their Government.” And in the course of doing that, agencies should “readily and systematically post information online in advance of any public request.”

And perhaps Holder caught a little of the hue and cry that rose up from the Internet regarding the bewildering episode of an FOIA denial coming out of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, because he clearly notes to each agency’s Chief FOIA officer: “I ask you to transmit this memorandum to all such personnel.”