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OPM Issues Guidance on FOIA Job Titles and Classification

The following post is authored by Director Melanie Ann Pustay In two new developments designed to enhance the professionalization of those individuals across the government who work to administer the FOIA, OPM has issued guidance on new FOIA job titles and launched an initiative to establish a new FOIA-related occupational series. These steps were taken March 14, 2011, the first day of Sunshine Week, and build on the President’s commitment to improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act. First, OPM issued a memorandum advising agencies that they can use new OPM job titles to designate agency staff who work to implement the FOIA. For those individuals who hold primary FOIA positions in an agency, where the “principal requirements are subject matter knowledge of the FOIA itself, including its principles, concepts, policies, and objectives, as well as analytical ability, judgment, and discretion,” agencies should assign the individual the official job title of “FOIA Officer” or “FOIA Specialist.” Second, OPM launched a new initiative to establish an occupational series encompassing information management functions, including those that are FOIA-related. In doing so, OPM stressed that it “believes that establishing a new information management occupational series that brings together Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, and Records Management positions would support recruitment, selection, and development of this critical workforce; elevate the importance of these functions within each agency; and advance professionalization of the field.” OPM has asked Human Resources Directors at agencies to provide information describing the information management work currently being performed at each agency and to answer questions about the proposed new job series. In doing so, agencies were specifically asked to solicit input from agency FOIA officers. The responses should be submitted to OPM by April 15, 2011. In his FOIA Guidelines the Attorney General highlighted the pivotal role played by FOIA professionals. He recognized that these are the individuals who work each and every day to respond to requests and to increase transparency. The steps taken by OPM to promote greater professionalization of the field are in keeping with the significance of their responsibilities.
Updated August 6, 2014