One year ago, during Sunshine Week, Attorney General Holder issued new FOIA Guidelines which directed agencies to take a number of steps to ensure that the FOIA is administered with a presumption of openness. Specifically, the Attorney General strongly encouraged agencies to make discretionary disclosures of information and to not withhold records simply because they technically fit within a FOIA exemption. He also directed agencies to make partial disclosures of records whenever full releases are not possible.
In addition, the Attorney General stressed that each agency must ensure that it has an effective system in place for responding to requests. He emphasized that a broad array of agency personnel, including IT specialists, have key roles in assisting in the FOIA process. The Attorney General also directed agencies to work to disclose records proactively, in advance of requests, and when requests are made, to respond to them in a timely manner.
The Attorney General stressed that agency Chief FOIA Officers must actively participate in their agencies' FOIA implementation program. He directed Chief FOIA Officers to review all aspects of their agencies' FOIA administration and to report to the Department of Justice each year on the steps they have taken to improve FOIA operations in their agencies. On March 15, 2010, the first agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports will be completed. Those reports will address five distinct areas: steps taken to apply the presumption of openness, steps taken to ensure that the agency has an effective system in place for responding to requests, steps taken to increase proactive disclosures, data on agency use of technology, and data on reducing backlogs.
To commemorate the First Anniversary of the Attorney General's FOIA Guidelines and completion of the first Chief FOIA Officer Reports, the Department of Justice is holding a celebration on Monday, March 15, 2010, the first day of Sunshine Week. The Attorney General will highlight some of the success stories that have occurred during this past year, as well as address additional initiatives going forward.
The details for this event are set out below:
|When:||Monday, March 15, 2010|
|Where:||Department of Justice Great Hall|
This event is open to both agency personnel and members of the public. Photo identification is required to enter the Department of Justice. Registration is required for this event. To register, please contact OIP at (202) 514-3642. (posted 03/04/2010)
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