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New "FOIA Guide" and Case List to Be Published in May

Continuing its established Freedom of Information Act reference volume publication cycle, the Office of Information and Privacy plans to publish the Department of Justice's Freedom of Information Act Guide & Privacy Act Overview, together with the Freedom of Information Case List, in May of this year.

The Freedom of Information Act Guide & Privacy Act Overview contains the "Justice Department Guide to the Freedom of Information Act," an extensive discussion of the FOIA's substantive and procedural aspects that has become the primary FOIA reference tool over the years; the "Privacy Act Overview," a detailed discussion of the provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 that is prepared by OIP in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget; and the texts of the two statutes, as amended. It is designed to serve as a single reference volume for both FOIA and Privacy Act matters. The new 2002 edition of the Guide & Overview will replace its current edition, which was published in May 2000.

The Freedom of Information Case List contains up-to-date lists of cases decided under the FOIA, the Privacy Act, the Government in the Sunshine Act, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as well as the texts of those four access statutes. It also contains a list of all "reverse" FOIA cases decided to date, subject matter indices for FOIA decisions, and a comprehensive list of related law review articles.

This will be the twenty-second edition of the "FOIA Guide," which began as an addendum to the Case List in the late 1970s. Previously known as the "Short Guide to the FOIA," it was discontinued briefly in 1981 and then was reinstituted in 1982 as a more authoritative reference tool. For the next decade, it was published as part of the Case List volume in September of each year, until it grew to a point in the early 1990s at which its continued development required separate publication treatment.

To accommodate that, OIP in 1992 detached the "FOIA Guide," added the "Privacy Act Overview," and created a combined FOIA and Privacy Act reference volume, the Guide & Overview, which stood separate from the Case List, both of which were published in September of each year. See FOIA Update, Vol. XIII, No. 2, at 2. Then, in 1995, OIP placed the Case List on a longer publication cycle, leading to its publication no more frequently than every three to four years. See FOIA Update, Vol. XVI, No. 2, at 2. The new 2002 edition of the Case List will replace its current edition, which was published in September 1998.

In 1999, OIP instituted plans to transition the Guide & Overview to a two-year publication cycle, at the same time also making arrangements with the Government Printing Office (GPO) for it to be published in the month of May, rather at the end of the fiscal year, so as to facilitate GPO's printing and governmentwide distribution of it on a more efficient timetable than in years past. The Guide & Overview began the transition to this two-year cycle with its last publication, in May 2000.

Now, the Guide & Overview will complete this transition with its May 2002 edition, and with plans for it to be published in May every two years thereafter. The Case List, too, will be published in May 2002, but any future publication schedule for it has not been established.

The Office of Information and Privacy routinely distributes a courtesy copy of each of these reference volumes to each principal FOIA officer at each federal agency, to various congressional offices, and to other interested parties. All federal agencies wishing to order additional copies of the Guide & Overview and Case List publications should "ride" the Justice Department's primary requisition orders through GPO. In advance of the publication date this year, OIP will mail to each agency a "rider" letter that contains detailed instructions on this requisition process, as it has done in the past. For this edition of these two volumes, this instruction letter also will be disseminated through FOIA Post. For future publication cycles, however, this letter will be disseminated to all agencies exclusively through FOIA Post.

Lastly, OIP will conduct a singular FOIA-training program, its "FOIA Guide Seminar," upon completion of its work on the 2002 edition of the Guide & Overview. As in past years, a special prepublication copy of "Justice Department Guide to the FOIA" will be printed and provided to all attendees. This program, which is designed for the access professional or agency official who needs only a periodic update on current FOIA case law and policy developments, is now tentatively scheduled to be conducted during the week of June 24, pending arrangements for it to be held in the spacious amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Building in Washington, D.C., the location in which it was held in June 2000 after publication of the last Guide & Overview edition. The date for this program will be announced through FOIA Post as soon as it can be confirmed. See FOIA Post, "FOIA Training Opportunities, Fiscal Year 2002" (posted 9/14/01).

Questions regarding the Justice Department's FOIA publications, or about ordering them through GPO, can be directed to OIP's publications editor, Pamela Maida, at (202) 514-5105. Once the date for the "FOIA Guide Seminar" is confirmed and announced, agency FOIA personnel may call (202) 514-3642 to register for it. Questions regarding this training program may be directed to OIP's training coordinator, Bertina Adams Cleveland, at (202) 514-1010.   (posted 1/31/02)

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