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GOVERNMENT INFORMATION: ANNUAL 2012Jessica McGilvrayjmcgilvray@alawash.org
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) The Faster FOIA Act of 2011 (S. 1466) sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Cornyn (R- TX), John Tester (D-MT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) passed the Senate by unanimous consent on August 1, 2011. Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-27) introduced the companion bill, H.R. 1564, in the House on April 14, 2011. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform.
FOIA CONTINUED Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would establish a commission that would be required to make recommendations to Congress and the President for reducing impediments to the processing of FOIA requests. While backlogs have presented a longstanding problem in agency implementation of the FOIA, the conditions and practices that create those backlogs are somewhat enigmatic. By conducting a thorough study of the root causes of FOIA processing delays and developing concrete recommendations, the commission will help agencies successfully implement President Obamas directive to reduce the significant backlogs of outstanding FOIA requests.
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS: ACTIONDURING THE 112TH CONGRESS Non-Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011 (S. 241) – Introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D- MO) on January 31, 2011. This bill would provide whistleblower protections for government contractors who provide information involving federal funds. The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. Congressional Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011 (S. 586) – Sen. Charles Grassley (R- IA) introduced S. 586 on March 15, 2011. This bill would apply whistleblower rights to congressional employees. The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS: ACTIONDURING THE 112TH CONGRESS CONTINUED The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011 (S. 743) – Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced the bill on April 6, 2011 and on October 19, 2011 the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ordered the bill to be reported favorably with an amendment. On May 8, 2012 the bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The companion bill in the House, H.R. 3289 was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on November 1, 2011. The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. These bills would expand the scope of whistleblower protections in the federal government, including providing whistleblower rights to employees of the Transportation Security Administration.
OPEN GOVERNMENT May 23, 2012 - President Obama released his Building a 21st Century Digital Government memo; introducing a new strategy created by the Federal Chief Information Officer, Steven VanRoekel. The memo, “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People” builds on prior initiatives, including one on improving government websites that was born from Executive Order 13571 – Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE (GPO)APPROPRIATIONS On June 8th, the House passed H.R. 5882, the Legislative Branch Appropriations ActLegislative Branch FY12 Final FY13 Pres. FY13 HouseGovernment Printing 126,200 126,200 122,496OfficeCongressional Printing 90,700 83,632 83,632and BindingSuperintendent of 35,000 34,728 34,728DocumentsGPO Revolving Fund 500 7,840 4,096
GPO APPROPRIATIONS CONTINUED On June 11th, the GPO posted a press release in response to the House vote. The amount appropriated by the House is 3% less than the GPO had requested. At this time the Senate has not scheduled a vote. Now is the time to contact your senator in support of full funding for the Government Printing Office.