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OIP Issues Guidance on Standard Operating Procedures for FOIA Offices

The Office of Information Policy (OIP) released guidance today on the benefits of and considerations for developing and updating agency FOIA Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).  Standardization of procedures for handling FOIA requests and appeals within an agency provides numerous benefits for both requesters and agency employees.  Benefits for agency FOIA and non-FOIA employees at various levels of responsibility and experience include serving as an onboarding resource, facilitating communication, and improving employee retention.  SOPs also benefit requesters by facilitating increased efficiency, consistency, and accuracy of agency responses. 

The guidance is tailored to address considerations for agencies that are in the process of developing or updating their SOPs.  It explains the importance of involving key stakeholders, tailoring content based on component-specific needs, and user-friendly formatting.  The guidance also stresses the importance of implementing and maintaining agency FOIA SOPs as living documents subject to modification as improvements to processes are made or changes in the law occur.  It encourages agencies to secure input and buy-in from FOIA professionals when creating or updating SOPs.  By implementing SOPs, agencies and requesters will benefit from institutionalized best practices of effective FOIA administration.

OIP is available to answer any questions or provide additional guidance to agencies.  Please contact 202-514-3642 or for assistance.     

Updated August 25, 2023