Senate proposes bill to form committee to study why government agencies are so secretive

Mike Riggs Contributor

Thanks to an AP survey that found an uptick in denied FOIA requests under Barack Obama, the Senate is doing…something?

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bipartisan bill Thursday that would set up a commission to explore why tens of thousands of requests for government information get sidetracked.

Co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the bill was approved and sent to the full Senate on a voice vote.

The legislation is in response to delays lasting sometimes years in responding to requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said exemptions cited by agencies under FOIA for preventing release of information have risen significantly in the last year. The law lists exceptions for complying with requests, such as to protect national security or personal privacy.

The bill sets up a 16-person commission to study the reasons for the delays and issue a report of recommendations within a year. An amendment by Leahy approved by voice vote orders the commission to examine and determine why the number of exemptions numbered 467,000 in fiscal 2009.