The Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council held its second meeting on September 15, 2016. OIP Director and CFO Council co-chair Melanie Ann Pustay opened the meeting by providing updates about recently-issued OIP guidance and resources related to the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. She also provided an overview of the universal FOIA portal, the first phase of which will be launched by the end of 2017.
The majority of the meeting consisted of discussion about the “release to one is a release to all” policy that would direct agencies to proactively post online their FOIA responses. After the CFO Council meeting on July 23, 2016, OIP circulated a questionnaire to all agency CFOs seeking their feedback on the feasibility, timeline, and any other concerns associated with implementing a “release to one is a release to all” policy. Director Pustay summarized agency responses to the questionnaire, which overall indicated that many agencies could begin implementing such a policy within 60 days of January 1, 2017 with most agencies preferring an incremental approach to full implementation.
Director Pustay then welcomed a representative from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to present the findings of their survey of journalists regarding the potential impact of a “release to one is a release to all” policy on investigative journalism. The President tasked the CFO Council with examining issues critical to the policy’s implementation, including assessing the impact on investigative journalism efforts. Following the presentation from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Director Pustay welcomed comments from other journalists, agency personnel, and the public regarding the policy.
On behalf of the CFO Council OIP greatly appreciates all the comments that have been provided and will consider the feedback as it works with the Office of Management and Budget to develop a government-wide FOIA presumption of “release to one is a release to all.”
All documents from the meeting, including the agency questionnaire and responses, are posted on the CFO Council page of OIP’s website.