Policy ForumGovernment Transparency

Reforms to improve U.S. government accountability

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 35-36
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2886

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Five decades after the United States first enacted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Congress has voted to make the first major reforms to the statute since 2007. President Lyndon Johnson signed the first FOIA on 4 July 1966, enshrining in law the public's right to access to information from executive branch government agencies. Scientists and others around the world can use the FOIA to learn what the U.S. government has done in its policies and practices. Proposed reforms should be a net benefit to public understanding of the scientific process and knowledge, by increasing the access of scientists to archival materials and reducing the likelihood of science and scientists being suppressed by official secrecy or bureaucracy.