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Highlights

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes that federal agencies must provide the public with access to government information, thus enabling them to learn about government operations and decisions. To help ensure appropriate implementation, the act requires that agencies report annually to the Attorney General, providing specific information about their FOIA operations. In addition, a recent Executive Order directs agencies to develop plans to improve their FOIA operations, including, among other things, goals to reduce backlogs in FOIA requests. GAO has reported previously on the contents of these annual reports for 25 major agencies. For this hearing, GAO was asked to testify both on the annual reports for fiscal year 2005 and on the recently developed improvement plans for these 25 agencies. GAO based its testimony on its ongoing work on these topics. Upon completion of its ongoing review, GAO expects to make recommendations to improve agency implementation of the Executive Order, including efforts to reduce and eliminate backlog.

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