Late last night, the Knight Institute and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter to newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking him to leverage the Department of Justice’s authority to promote compliance with the Freedom of Information Act across agencies. Among other things, the letter asks the attorney general to encourage proactive disclosures of information, improve FOIA processes and procedures, and adopt more stringent standards for DOJ’s defense of agency withholdings in FOIA litigation. During his confirmation process, Garland emphasized that FOIA should be read “generously” and that the statute is a “critically important tool for government accountability.” We encourage the attorney general to translate those words into action.
The letter is part of a larger effort to ensure that the new administration embraces a more open government. Last month, the Knight Institute and a coalition of more than 40 civil society organizations sent a letter to President Biden, asking him to implement a number of much-needed reforms to strengthen government transparency and accountability. Read more about that effort here.
Anna Diakun is a staff attorney at the Knight Institute.