Today the Office for Information Policy issued guidelines for the timing and content of agency 2021 Chief FOIA Officer Reports. 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.”
Since the beginning of this 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 2021 Chief FOIA Officer Report Guidelines continue to include separate reporting requirements for agencies depending on the number of FOIA requests received in the prior fiscal year. Agencies that received more than 50 requests in Fiscal Year 2019 are required to respond to the questions provided in this template. Agencies that received 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2019 are encouraged to report on any efforts or success stories that are not captured in their Fiscal Year 2020 Annual FOIA Report.
OIP has identified 69 agencies that received more than 50 requests during Fiscal Year 2019. These agencies must submit their draft 2021 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review by no later than January 11, 2021. For the remaining agencies receiving 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2019, if they do have information to report, they must provide their reports by no later than February 12, 2021.
Additional details on the review and submission process are included in the Guidelines. OIP will once again host refresher training sessions on the preparation of both the 2021 Chief FOIA Officer Reports and the Fiscal Year 2020 Annual FOIA Reports. The details for these trainings will be announced here on FOIA Post.