An enormous range of documents and data, including theFederal budget, is now available on-line or in electronic format, makinggovernment more accessible than ever. And in the last year, we have declassifiedunprecedented amounts of national security material, including information
The legislation I sign today brings FOIA into the informationand electronic age by clarifying that it applies to records maintainedin electronic format.
This law also broadens public access to government informationby placing more material on-line and expanding the role of the agency readingroom. As the government actively disseminates more information, I hopethat thre will be less need to use FOIA to obtain government information.
This legislation not only affirms the importance, but also the challengeof maintaining openness in government.
In a period of government down sizing, the numbers ofrequests continue to rise. In addition, growing numbers of requests arefor information that must be reviewed for declassification, or in whichthere is aproprietary interest or a privacy concern.
The result in many agencies is huge backlogs of requests.In this Act, the Congress recognized that with today's limited resources,it is frequently difficult to respond to all FOIA requests within the 10days formerly required in the law.
This legislation extends the legal response period to20 days.
More importantly, it recognizes that many FOIA requestsare so broad and complex that they cannot possibly be completed even withinthis longer period, and the time spent in processing them only delays otherrequests.
Accordingly, H.R. 38024 establishes procedures for angencyto discuss with requesters ways of tailoring large requests to improveresponsiveness.
The s approach explicitly recognizes that FOIA works bestwhen agencies and requesters work together.
Our country was founded on democratic principles of opennessand accountability, and for 30 years, FOIA has supported these princples.
Today, the "Electronic Freedom of information Act Amendments 1996"reforges an important link between the UnitedStates government and theAmerican people.