White House to make public records more public

Lisa Rein at the Washington Post: “The law that’s supposed to keep citizens in the know about what their government is doing is about to get more robust.

Starting this week, seven agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence —  launched a new effort to put online the records they distribute to requesters under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

So if a journalist, nonprofit group or corporation asks for the records, what they see, the public also will see. Documents still will be redacted where necessary to protect what the government decides is sensitive information, an area that’s often disputed but won’t change with this policy.

The Obama administration’s new Open Government initiative began quietly on the agencies’ Web sites days after FOIA’s 49th anniversary. It’s a response to years of pressure from open-government groups and lawmakers to boost public access to records of government decisions, deliberations and policies.

The “release to one is release to all” policy will start as a six-month pilot at the EPA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and within some offices at the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the National Archives and Records Administration….(More)”