CBO releases cost estimate on FOIA bill, but doesn’t address savings

The CBO score is out on the FOIA reform bill and it estimates the bill would add $20 million over 5 years in federal expenses. It’s a frustrating analysis because it does not reflect any savings from making FOIA processing more efficient by, e.g., using a shared FOIA processing service such as FOIAonline.  Such problems are typical with CBO cost estimates, and traditionally it is very difficult to get CBO to adjust their scores.  Congress will have to find savings of at least equal to the net cost from the legislation to meet pay-as-you-go requirements before the bill could be approved.  Or Congress could waive that requirement, but that is highly unlikely.

This supports adjusting the bill to tie closing of contracts with a shift to FOIAonline or other system that makes the process more efficient.  Such systems could, for example, allow various agencies to “talk” to one another digitally while processing a FOIA request.