from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 56
July 1, 2016

Secrecy News Blog:


President Obama signed into law the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Improvement Act of 2016 yesterday.

The Act places a 25 year limit on the use of the deliberative process exemption, codifies a presumption of openness, and makes various procedural improvements in the FOIA. The Department of Justice summarized its understanding of the new law here:

The White House portrayed the law as consistent with its own record of promoting open government.

"I am very proud of all the work we've done to try to make government more open and responsive, but I know that people haven't always been satisfied with the speed with which they're getting responses and requests," President Obama said at an Oval Office signing ceremony. "Hopefully this is going to help and be an important initiative for us to continue on the reform path."

A White House fact sheet said that more would be done. "The Administration is taking a number of steps to further the progress made since 2009, ensuring that this Administration's track record of openness is institutionalized throughout government and carries forward for years to come."

But the new FOIA law explicitly provides no new resources for implementation. So in the face of rising and, in fact, unconstrained "demand" from some FOIA users, it is unclear how much improvement the FOIA Improvement Act can be expected to generate for the average requester.

"In honor of Congress' passage of FOIA reform bill, I just submitted approx 700 new #FOIA requests to FBI," tweeted FOIA campaigner Ryan Shapiro on June 14. He did not appear to be joking.


Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Slow Growth in the Current U.S. Economic Expansion, June 24, 2016:

Economic Growth Slower Than Previous 10 Expansions, CRS Insight, June 30, 2016:

The Economic Effects of Trade: Overview and Policy Challenges, June 29, 2016:

Job Creation in the Manufacturing Revival, updated June 28, 2016:

U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Policy, June 27, 2016:

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2017, June 24, 2016:

Digital Searches and Seizures: Overview of Proposed Amendments to Rule 41 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, June 29, 2016:

Expulsion, Censure, Reprimand, and Fine: Legislative Discipline in the House of Representatives, updated June 27, 2016:

Midnight Rules: Congressional Oversight and Options, CRS Insight, June 27, 2016:

Senate Action on U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations During the Eighth Year of a Presidency, CRS Insight, June 30, 2016:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Supreme Court's 4-4 Split on Immigration, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 24, 2016:

Iran's Foreign Policy, updated June 27, 2016:

Financing U.S. Agricultural Exports to Cuba, CRS Insight, June 24, 2016:

After Brexit: A Diminished or Enhanced EU?, CRS Insight, June 29, 2016:

Possible Economic Impact of Brexit, CRS Insight, June 28, 2016:

Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy Considerations, June 29, 2016:

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer, updated June 28, 2016:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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