H.R. 653 would amend the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA generally allows any person to obtain records from federal agencies. Specifically, the legislation would: establish a single website for making FOIA requests; direct agencies to make records available in an electronic format; require courts to pay some attorney fees and other litigation costs related to FOIA disputes; reduce the number of exemptions agencies can use to withhold information from the public; clarify procedures for handling frequently requested documents and charging fees; establish the Chief FOIA Officers Council; and require agencies to prepare additional reports for the Congress.
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 653 would cost $22 million over the 2016-2020 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. The bill would affect direct spending by agencies not funded through annual appropriations; therefore, pay as-you-go procedures apply. CBO estimates, however, that any net increase in spending by those agencies would not be significant. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
H.R. 653 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.