The FOIA requires agency Chief FOIA Officers to report to the Attorney General on their performance in implementing the law. Accordingly, since 2009, the Department of Justice has directed agency Chief FOIA Officers to “review all aspects of their agencies’ FOIA administration” and to report annually to the Department of Justice on the efforts undertaken “to improve FOIA operations and facilitate information disclosure at their agencies.” Every year, OIP provides specific guidance to agencies on the content and timing of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports and today we have issued the guidelines for agency 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports.
Since the beginning of the reporting obligation, OIP has required agency Chief FOIA Officers to include in their reports steps taken to implement the five key areas of FOIA administration:
- Applying the Presumption of Openness,
- Ensuring that there are Effective Systems for Responding to Requests,
- Increasing Proactive Disclosures,
- Increasing the Utilization of Technology, and
- Improving Timeliness and Reducing any Backlogs.
The 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Guidelines once again include separate reporting requirements for agencies depending on the number of FOIA requests received in the prior fiscal year. For 2022, there are two sets of reporting requirements. Agencies that received 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2020 are encouraged to report on any efforts or success stories that are not captured in their Fiscal Year 2021 Annual FOIA Report. All other agencies receiving more than 50 requests have more extensive reporting requirements, which have been streamlined for 2022.
OIP has identified 67 agencies that received more than 50 requests in Fiscal Year 2020. These agencies must submit their draft 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review by no later than January 10, 2022. For the remaining agencies receiving 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2020, if they do have information to report, they must provide their reports by no later than February 11, 2022. A listing of all agencies with a link to their reporting requirements is included at the end of the Guidelines.
Additional details on the review and submission process are included in the Guidelines. OIP will once again host a refresher training seminar on the preparation of both the 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports and the Fiscal Year 2021 Annual FOIA Reports.