- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2016

President Obama signed into law Thursday an update of the federal Freedom of Information Act that proponents say will streamline and improve the 50-year-old law.

With his own administration often criticized for failing to respond to FOIA requests quickly or fully, Mr. Obama said the reform law will make it “easier, faster and cheaper” for citizens to obtain government information.

“Fortunately Congress on a bipartisan basis has provided the tools to legislation to codify some the reforms we’ve already made and to expand more of these reforms so government is more responsive,” Mr. Obama told reporters.

In addition to adding a presumption in favor of disclosure to the law, the measure also creates a centralized portal for FOIA requests across the government.

The legislation was watered down somewhat from earlier versions before it passed the Senate in March. As the president and his advisers have noted previously, the new law still does not cover requests for information from Congress.

An Associated Press analysis found that the administration came up empty-handed in more than 100,000 records requests in 2015, or about one in six requests — a record in itself.

The president said the government is receiving more FOIA requests than ever before.

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