Text: H.R.7163 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (06/11/2020)

 
[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 7163 Introduced in House (IH)]

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116th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 7163

 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reduce the backlog of 
  requests for information made to the Department of Veterans Affairs 
 pursuant to section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and for other 
                               purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             June 11, 2020

  Mr. Cisneros (for himself and Mr. Rose of New York) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' 
                                Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reduce the backlog of 
  requests for information made to the Department of Veterans Affairs 
 pursuant to section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and for other 
                               purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``VA FOIA Reform Act of 2020''.

SEC. 2. REDUCTION OF BACKLOG OF CERTAIN REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION.

    (a) Reduction of Backlogs.--
            (1) FOIA.--By not later than three years after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        shall reduce the backlog of FOIA requests by 75 percent.
            (2) Office of special counsel.--By not later than three 
        years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
        Secretary shall reduce the backlog of Special Counsel requests 
        by 75 percent.
    (b) Proactive Disclosures.--On an ongoing basis, the Secretary 
shall determine the documents, records, and information of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs that are the types of documents, 
records, and information of the Department that the Secretary 
determines are frequently requested and provided pursuant to section 
552 of title 5, United States Code. The Secretary shall regularly make 
such documents, records, and information publicly available, including 
by publishing such documents, records, and information on the internet 
website of the Department.
    (c) Compliance Assessment.--The Secretary shall request the 
Director of the Office of Government Information Services of the 
National Archives and Records Administration to conduct an assessment 
of the compliance by the Department of Veterans Affairs with section 
552 of title 5, United States Code.
    (d) Reports.--
            (1) Initial report.--Not later than 180 days after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the 
        Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives 
        and the Senate a report on implementing subsections (a) and 
        (b). The report shall include the following:
                    (A) A plan for such implementation.
                    (B) An analysis of the root causes of the backlog 
                of FOIA requests and the backlog of Special Counsel 
                requests.
                    (C) A plan to improve and acquire technology, 
                including with respect to searching email and other 
                electronic information, and the timelines for such 
                improvement, to ensure that the information technology 
                of the Department of Veterans Affairs is capable of 
                carrying out such plan.
                    (D) Identification of efficient procedures, 
                policies, and systems of the Department that could be 
                developed to allow employees of the Department 
                responsible for replying to requests under section 552 
                of title 5, United States Code, to search and review 
                documents rather than other employees of the 
                Department.
                    (E) Identification of the documents and information 
                that will be made publicly available under subsection 
                (b) and identification of the 10 most frequently 
                requested types of documents, records, or information.
                    (F) Recommendations with respect to any additional 
                resources or legislative action the Secretary 
                determines necessary for such implementation.
            (2) Annual reports.--During the three-year period following 
        the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall 
        submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of 
        Representatives and the Senate annual reports on implementing 
        subsections (a) and (b).
            (3) Publication.--The Secretary shall make publicly 
        available on the internet website of the Department the reports 
        under paragraphs (1) and (2) by not later than 30 days after 
        the date on which the Secretary submits the reports to the 
        Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives 
        and the Senate.
    (e) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) The term ``backlog of FOIA requests'' means the number 
        of requests, as reported by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        to the Attorney General in the Annual FOIA Report for Fiscal 
        Year 2019, made by individuals to the Secretary pursuant to 
        section 552 of title 5, United States Code, for documents or 
        information that the Secretary has not fulfilled or provided a 
        response to the individual.
            (2) The term ``backlog of Special Counsel requests'' means 
        the number of requests, as determined by the Secretary of 
        Veterans Affairs by not later than 90 days after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, made by the Special Counsel to the 
        Secretary pursuant to chapter 12 of part II of title 5, United 
        States Code, for documents or information that the Secretary 
        has not fulfilled or provided a response to the Office of 
        Special Counsel.
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