Last week representatives of government agencies and the requester community joined Director Melanie Ann Pustay for another meeting in our continuing Requester Roundtable series. These meetings provide a regular opportunity for open discussions on numerous topics surrounding the administration of the FOIA between various interested stakeholders.
This meeting had a uniquely broad topic, “FOIA Libraries: Maximizing Usefulness from the Requester Standpoint.” Intended as a brainstorming session, Director Pustay opened up the meeting to all attendees to see what types of information would be useful for agencies to include in their FOIA Libraries, identifying best practices employed by agencies and components, as well as pinpointing areas for improvement in the quality of information and organization of agency FOIA Libraries.
A number of topics were addressed during the meeting, but a recurring theme throughout the discussion was the fact that the decentralized nature of government FOIA processing leads to differences in procedures and types of records made available at federal agencies and their components. The group discussed the benefits of including on FOIA webpages agency and component-level FOIA processing standards and/or requirements for making FOIA requests, including standards for requesting expedited processing, as well as descriptions of records maintained or topics covered by individual offices in order to help the public identify where to submit FOIA requests. If you were unable to attend this Roundtable meeting, but would like to share your thoughts with OIP on how to maximize the usefulness of FOIA Libraries, please send us an e-mail at DOJ.OIP.FOIA@usdoj.gov. OIP plans to issue guidance in the near future on FOIA websites and FOIA Libraries, and the input received from this roundtable meeting will prove valuable.
The Requester Roundtable series, which is held in connection with the Office of Government Information Services, will hold its next meeting on April 24, 2013. Details on the topic, time, and location of this meeting will be announced prior to that date here on FOIA Post and on Twitter at @FOIAPost as they are finalized.