Secret government is dangerous government. Government must be accountable to its citizenry. But how is light shed on government activities for public monitoring? That is where the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) comes into play. The FOIA was enacted in 1966 so that the American public could gain access to government information to monitor the service of elected and appointed federal officials. The FOIA was amended in the 1970s with sharper teeth in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Much later, in the mid-1990s, the statute was further revised to allow for the discovery of government information in electronic form. There has been a perception that the current administration in practice has diluted the timing and quality of provision of information under the statute. Those days appear to be coming to an end, as the House of Representatives recently passed a bill referred to as the Open Government Act of 2007 that passed the Senate just days earlier. Perhaps seeing the ultimate writing on the wall, President Bush signed the act into law on December 31.
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