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Basic FOIA Training Manual Now Available On-Line

The Office of Information and Privacy is pleased to announce that a new reference tool has been created to aid the Freedom of Information Act's administration, one that now is available for ready use on the Department of Justice's FOIA Web site.

OIP has taken the basic contents of its largest FOIA training manual, which it uses in its training program entitled "The Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act for Attorneys and Access Professionals," and has placed them in electronic form into a compilation that can be viewed and downloaded on-line. This compilation, consisting of policy guidance issued through FOIA Update and FOIA Post over the past twenty-three years, as well as additional reference items, now can be accessed under the heading "Basic FOIA Training Manual" through the "Reference Materials" portion of the Department's FOIA Web site. Covering the FOIA part of this training program, it will be updated several times each year, just as the paper version of the manual is updated before each training program is conducted. It also will contain the list of "Recent Significant Decisions" that is distributed as a handout at each such training session.

"The Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act for Attorneys and Access Professionals" is a training program conducted by OIP through the Justice Department's National Advocacy Center five or six times per year. See FOIA Post, "FOIA Training Opportunities, Fiscal Year 2005" (posted 8/27/04; supplemented 9/20/04). It regularly is held both at the National Advocacy Center's training facility in Columbia, South Carolina and in Washington, D.C. During the past week, this program also was conducted in a new location -- Albuquerque, New Mexico -- to broaden its reach to FOIA personnel who work beyond the East Coast of the United States. See FOIA Post, "Justice Department FOIA Course to Be Held in Albuquerque" (posted 9/20/04).

The basic FOIA training course from which these program materials are taken was created in 1982 in order to serve a growing need for FOIA training on a governmentwide basis and was conducted under the auspices of the National Advocacy Center's predecessor organization. See FOIA Update, Vol. III, No. 2, at 6; see also FOIA Update, Vol. V, No. 1, at 1-2. During the mid-1980s, when severe budgetary cutbacks threatened this course's regular continuation, OIP maintained it entirely through its own administrative resources, see FOIA Update, Vol. VII, No. 3, at 1-2, and this two-day FOIA program subsequently was expanded to include a third day of instruction covering the Privacy Act. It now is part of a wide range of FOIA training that is offered at multiple levels. See FOIA Update, Vol. XII, No. 2, at 2; see also, e.g., FOIA Post, "FOIA Training Opportunities, Fiscal Year 2005" (posted 8/27/04; supplemented 9/20/04).

The electronic availability of the training materials that are provided to the participants in this basic FOIA course will enable all FOIA personnel governmentwide to benefit from these materials on a regular basis. This new compilation also will allow users of the Justice Department's FOIA Web site to conduct research on FOIA issues in a highly efficient, electronic fashion. Because it takes advantage of Web-based technology to include multiple links to additional reference materials within individual reference items, it permits the creation of comprehensive research packages on FOIA topics of interest, through the simple steps of linking and printing, with an efficiency and comprehensiveness never before possible.  (posted 11/26/04)

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