Magazine article The News Media and the Law (Online)

Lynch Hearing Touches on FOIA Issues

Magazine article The News Media and the Law (Online)

Lynch Hearing Touches on FOIA Issues

Article excerpt

Issues of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act received some attention during Loretta Lynch's eight-hour confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Lynch said she will work with Congress to improve public access to open records, and described the Freedom of Information Act as "an important tool for the American people."

But Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked Lynch about "critical comments" made in a FOIA management evaluation of the U.S. Attorney's office of the Eastern District of New York, where Lynch was in charge.

The evaluation, released several days before the hearing, mentioned numerous FOIA issues, including: not substantially complying with the Executive Office for United States Attorneys Management Standards regarding management of the FOIA program, not responding to records requests in a timely manner, not effectively supervising its FOIA program, and not providing sufficient training to current and newly hired employees.

Lynch said her office immediately corrected these issues and found the evaluation to be very helpful.

"I specifically asked the evaluators to look at our management systems and our support staff systems to make sure we were in compliance and to bring any issues to our attention. They raised this issue, which was of great concern to me. We immediately took steps to rectify the issues that we found within our own office functioning," Lynch said.

"We have added increased personnel to handle Freedom of Information Act requests. We work closely with the Department of Justice to ensure they are handled as expeditiously as possible. So I actually found it to be a very helpful evaluation process, and I find that I have learned the most when someone has pointed out to me an area which I might improve. …

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