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Our Plan for Open Government

April 7, 2010

Today, the Department of Justice is proud to release our Plan for Open Government. Our plan sets forth ongoing and anticipated efforts to increase transparency in government, participation and collaboration.  We believe these initiatives will have a lasting impact, permanently breaking down barriers between the American people and their government.   Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli commented on the plan's release: "We are committed to creating the most open and transparent Department of Justice in history. The steps outlined in our Open Government Plan are the product of participation from throughout the Department and with the public. These efforts will improve the public's understanding of what the Department does, provide information in more accessible form, and continue our increased collaboration with our many partners and the public."  Our plan is tied to our core missions, which are to:

  • prevent terrorism and  promote national security;
  • prevent crime, enforce federal laws and represent the rights and interest of the American people; and,
  • ensure the fair and efficient administration of justice.

The Department of Justice has long had a special responsibility for open government because of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Freedom of Information Act is a key tool for transparency in government. It is often through the FOIA that the public learns what the government is doing and holds the government accountable for its decisions and actions. While the FOIA imposes openness obligations on all Executive Branch agencies, it imposes unique responsibilities on the Department. Federal law requires the Department to provide guidance to other agencies on FOIA related issues and requires the Department to collect information on FOIA compliance from across the government. The Department takes its roles under the FOIA seriously. For this reason, we’ve made increasing the ease of public access to FOIA information, through the creation of a FOIA Dashboard, our flagship initiative. The FOIA Dashboard will apply the principles of transparency and openness to the administration of the FOIA itself, allowing the public to easily track information about FOIA compliance. The Dashboard will allow the public to generate statistics on FOIA compliance across the government and from year to year. Not only will this visual report card promote transparency, it should also have the effect of encouraging the Department’s FOIA offices – and FOIA offices across the government – to improve their compliance efforts and release as much information to the public under FOIA as possible. Our plan outlines a number of additional steps we’ll be taking to open up the Department. Some of these steps we’ll begin implementing immediately. For instance:

  • We will begin to regularly make significant court filings readily available on our Web site as they are filed. This will allow Americans to review the documents themselves and gain a full understanding of the Department’s actions.
  • Each month, the Department will post the daily calendar of the Attorney General so that his meetings and activities will be readily accessible by the public. Redactions will be kept to a minimum, consistent with the principles laid out in the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines.  While there will always be aspects of the Attorney General’s responsibilities that cannot be disclosed publicly, lest they compromise important national security, law enforcement or litigation interests, there is much that can, and should be, disclosed.  
  •  The Department publishes numerous reports on scores of law enforcement related issues every year. Those reports are of high quality and often draw important conclusions from their data. It is important to recognize, however, that other researchers may use the same data to draw insightful conclusions that improve law enforcement or otherwise benefit the public. In order to facilitate such efforts, when an office or division of the Department publishes a report that summarizes quantitative data that the office or division has collected, there shall be a presumption that the office or division will also make the underlying data available through an appropriate channel.

We’ve outlined many more examples of ways we intend to be more transparent, participatory and collaborative throughout our plan. We hope you’ll take time to read the plan and let us know what you think. You can send us your thoughts via e-mail at

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Updated March 3, 2017