VerDate 0ct 09 2002
end of the bill that will enhance Congress’s ability to strengthen and oversee the law. Now these, of course, won’t do anything in and of themselves, but they signal that Congress intends the Free- dom of Information Act to work efficiently and smoothly and will continue aggressively to oversee agencies to make sure that is the case.
I want to end with a brief personal story that illustrates the power of what I believe to be a truly magnificent law. About 25 years ago, I sent a Freedom of Information request to the Justice Department for records relating to my father, who had been a law- yer in the Justice Department in the 1920s. Since he died when I was very young, our family knew nothing about his early profes- sional career, how he came to Justice, what he did while he was there, or how he wound up living in Houston, where I was brought up. All of this information and more was contained in a package of photocopies of faded personnel and litigation records that I ob- tained from the Department under the Freedom of Information Act. I immediately made copies and distributed them to all the family, and our family’s understanding and pride in our own heritage had been enriched by this experience. My own pride in having worked for the Justice Department was certainly enhanced by knowing of my father’s role in that agency many decades before.
The Freedom of Information Act remains a powerful tool that contributes meaningfully to our democracy, and S. 394 does an ex- cellent job of addressing some of its remaining weaknesses.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify and I look forward to con- tinuing to work with the staff of the Subcommittee and the Com- mittee to see this legislation enacted during this Congress. Thank you.
Senator CORNYN. Thank you very much, Mr. Susman. I appre- ciate your statement.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Susman appears as a submission for the record.]
Senator CORNYN. Now, we will go to a round of questions. I will start with Ms. Cary. I believe Ms. Fuchs mentioned that there were about 3.6 million Freedom of Information Act requests in the Fed- eral Government in the year 2003, and did I hear you correctly that your office, General Abbott’s office, administered two million in a single year? Did I get that right?
Ms. CARY. Not General Abbott’s office. We administer the ones, as you know, that people object to release. Texas Building and Pro- curement Commission let out some statistics last week that were reported in The Statesman that said that they estimated two mil- lion requests fulfilled for the fiscal year, I think it was 2004—the 2003–04 fiscal year, and so we only did—we did about 11,000 rul- ing off the two million requests. So, you see, the information is going out at a much greater pace than it is being withheld.
Senator CORNYN. Thank you for that clarification. So it sounds like requests for a ruling is clearly the exception and not the rule. The rule is that recognizing their responsibility, governmental enti- ties are providing the information really without objection, without asking for any intervention by your office, is that correct?
Ms. CARY. Yes, sir. That is our belief.
09:04 Nov 08, 2005