Today, DOJ published for public comment in the Federal Register a draft policy implementing a "Release to One, Release to All" presumption for FOIA processed records. The notice and the draft policy can be accessed on Regulations.gov. This draft policy reflects a series of efforts going back to 2015.
In July 2015, DOJ launched a 6-month pilot program with seven volunteer Federal agencies to assess the viability of a policy that would direct agencies to proactively post online their FOIA responses. This concept would ensure that all citizens—not just those making a request—have access to information released under FOIA. Over the course of the pilot, DOJ worked with participating agencies to capture metrics on the time and resources associated with implementing this policy, as well as any impacts on interested stakeholders.
In June 2016, in conjunction with President Obama signing the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, the White House released a fact sheet announcing a number of new steps to build on all the progress made in the implementation of FOIA, including working on the establishment of a “Release to one, Release to all” presumption. The President directed the newly established Chief FOIA Officers Council to consider the lessons learned from the DOJ pilot program, and to work on the development of a Federal Government policy establishing a “release to one, release to all” presumptive standard. Through the Chief FOIA Officers Council, DOJ examined issues critical to this policy’s implementation, including assessing the impact on investigative journalism efforts, as well as how best to address technological and resource challenges.
The draft policy published today reflects DOJ's considerations from both the lessons learned from the DOJ pilot and all of the issues examined through the Chief FOIA Officers Council, including certain exceptions to the policy and two different options for the timing of when documents should be posted online. DOJ welcomes your comments on the entire draft policy and all public comments will be considered when finalizing the guidance.
You may download the draft policy directly through the link below. If you would like to provide feedback on this draft policy, please submit your comments by no later than Friday, December 23, 2016. All comments should be provided through Regulations.gov.