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alties on drugs and devices they were testing on patients who did not know their financial interest in the product. The practice ended under a new policy announced immediately after the story hit the wire.
The New York Daily News found that the Federal courthouse in lower Manhattan had maintenance and cleaning costs double those at State court buildings a block away and that in 1997, it cost $84,812 to polish the brass at the entrances to the building.
Along with those FOI success stories, there are too many epi- sodes of information blocked by delays and by agencies bent on se- crecy. One remarkable example, Terry Anderson has been men- tioned, the former AP man held hostage for seven years in Leb- anon. When he was writing his book, he filed an FOI request for information about his captivity and he says that he was told he couldn’t have everything he was seeking because of the privacy rights of his kidnappers.
The OPEN Government Act you are considering will plug some holes and repair some problems in the FOI Act, and for that, it should be approved. But I think beyond the specific steps, the mes- sage behind this measure is even more important because its en- actment would once again declare that the public has the right to obtain information from Federal agencies and not to have it with- held in favor of secrecy as opposed to disclosure.
I think this hearing and a full discussion of FOI in Congress will serve that mission well. As you have mentioned, as you begin this legislative work, we in the news media are undertaking a project entitled the Sunshine in Government Initiative with a similar mis- sion. What you are trying to do by law, we are trying to do by ex- ample and with our reporting.
We newspeople are the highest-profile advocates and users of the Freedom of Information Act, but it is not only a tool for reporters. Increasingly, requests do not come from us but from people like veterans and retirees trying to get information about their govern- ment benefits, from citizens looking for information about what is happening in their government. That is worth emphasizing, be- cause it points out that access to information is best for everyone.
We need to find ways to keep that flow of information open, not just for the press, but for all Americans, and to keep it a topic of national concern. So I thank you for what you are doing in that cause and for inviting me to join in that effort.
Thank you, Mr. Mears. [The prepared statement of Mr. Mears appears as a submission for the record.]
Senator CORNYN. Mr. Tapscott?
STATEMENT OF MARK TAPSCOTT, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC POLICY, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. TAPSCOTT. Thank you, Senator. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here to testify today about the OPEN Government Act of 2005. I have submitted my statement for the record, so I am just going to summarize.
Senator CORNYN. That would be fine. All your written statements will be made part of the record, without objection.
09:04 Nov 08, 2005