US Attorney General issues new Freedom of Information Act guidelines which apply presumption of openness
On Thursday 19th March 2009, US Attorney General, Eric Holder, issued comprehensive new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines today that direct all US executive branch departments and agencies to apply a presumption of openness when administering the FOIA. The new guidelines, announced in a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies, build on the principles announced by US President Barack Obama on his first full day in office when he issued a presidential memorandum on the FOIA that called on agencies to "usher in a new era of open government." At that time, President Obama also instructed Attorney General Holder to issue new FOIA guidelines that reaffirm the government’s commitment to accountability and transparency. The memo rescinds the guidelines issued by the previous Bush administration. "By restoring the presumption of disclosure that is at the heart of the Freedom of Information Act, we are making a critical change that will restore the public’s ability to access information in a timely manner," said Attorney General Holder. "The American people have the right to information about their government’s activities, and these new guidelines will ensure they are able to obtain that information under principles of openness and transparency."