The 1996, yes, 1996 revision of the Freedom of Information Act, known as EFOIA, called for federal agencies to post frequently requested documents on their Web sites.
Guess what? Not every agency did it.
But now that transparency is hip, open-government advocates have created a Web site so folks can tell the government what documents they would like to see made public.
The site, Show us the Data, is a joint project of OpenTheGovernment.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology. They only have a few votes, but the currently most wanted document is something we wrote about Tuesday -- reports of the Congressional Research Service. CRS reports would not fall under the 1996 EFOIA amendments, but open-records advocates have argued for years that the information should be public.
There aren't a lot of votes on the site yet -- but the site just opened yesterday.
Other top items for requesters are documents about the Department of Justice's usage of the Patriot Act, complete lists of congressional votes and opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice. For more information on the status of the OLC memos, check ProPublica's tally of missing memos.
"The goal is to make sure we can prioritize what documents the public feels are important for posting," Ari Schwartz, CDT vice president, told us. "It's one thing to talk about transparency. It's another to come up with specifics of what needs to be posted. If Congress and the executive branch really care about transparency, they will put these at the top of their lists."
Schwartz pointed out that true transparency would mean that agencies should proactively post information for the public so that people don't have to file FOIA requests to get the information.
Vote early. The deadline to pick your favorite documents is March 9.