The Department of Justice is pleased to announce the publication of its new, updated FOIA regulations which will become effective May 4, 2015. FOIA regulations serve as a resource for both agency personnel and the public. They provide procedural information for requesters, such as details about where and how to make a request. They also set forth requirements for agencies, such as details about information that should be included in agency correspondence with requesters.
The Department has updated its FOIA regulations and streamlined the language contained in them to make the regulations more user-friendly. The updated regulations also reflect a range of practices embraced by the Department in support of the President's and Attorney General Holder's 2009 FOIA directives, particularly the Department’s policy encouraging discretionary releases.
The new FOIA regulations were developed with public feedback and useful suggestions from requesters. Many of the changes incorporate best practices from OIP's guidance that improve the FOIA process for both the Department and requesters. For example, the new regulations include:
- A focus on the role of the Department's FOIA Contacts and FOIA Public Liaisons to assist requesters both before and after a request is made
- Proactive notification to requesters of which processing track their request falls in and an opportunity for requesters to narrow their requests to fit a faster track
- Procedures on referrals, consultations and coordinations, which among other things require agencies to provide requesters the name and FOIA contact information of any agency where records are referred
- An emphasis on good communication practices, which include the Department's commitment to communicate with requesters electronically whenever feasible, as well as other practices that ensure communications are made in the spirit of cooperation called for by the President and Attorney General Holder.
These are just a few examples of the new provisions in the Department's FOIA regulations. The full text of the regulations can be found here. Be sure to continue reading FOIA Post for the latest FOIA news from OIP.