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Draft bill would create single portal for records requests

Bloomberg reports today that two lawmakers in the U.S. House plan to release a draft bill that would create a single portal for federal records requests.

According to draft legislation obtained by Bloomberg, the bill would put the burden on the fedreal government to prove why information should be withheld if requested under the Freedom of Informaiton Act. 

“This bill strengthens FOIA, our most important open government law, and makes clear that the government should operate with a presumption of openness and not one of secrecy,” sponsor Elijah Cummings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in a statement Tuesday.

The draft bill comes after President Obama in his first term promised greater transparency in government, a promise that Bloomberg has previously found has gone unfulfilled in a sweeping request for cabinet leader travel records. Likewise, the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire found similar lags in fedreal agencies granting records, and the FOIA project at Syracuse University found lawsuits over FOIA have increased under Obama's tenure compared to President Bush.

The idea of a single portal for federal records isn't unprecedented. Earlier this year, Transparency Watch reviewed FOIA Online, a records request portal that currently includes only a handful of federal agencies.

Read more on the draft bill from Bloomberg.

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