Rep. Darrell Issa at a House meeting. Photo courtesy Issa's office
Rep. Darrell Issa at a House meeting. Photo courtesy Issa’s office

The House of Representatives approved by a voice vote Monday sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information Act championed by Rep. Darrell Issa.

Issa, who represents north coastal San Diego and south Orange counties, described the changes as “common sense reforms that give citizen watchdogs and journalists easier access to information to hold the government accountable.”

According to the House Oversight Committee, which Issa previously chaired, the legislation achieves the following:

  • Narrows exemptions, preventing agencies from withholding documents that rightfully belong to the American public
  • Requires agencies to provide an actual list for all documents found to be responsive to a request
  • Requires agencies to provide a detailed explanation of fees or fee estimates
  • Authorizes disciplinary action for any federal employee withholding responsive records
  • Requires agency-wide training in how to respond to requests

“Chiefly, it changes the assumption that government information is secret to a presumption of openness and modernizes the system for processing requests so that agency responses are more efficient,” Issa said.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.