This past March marked the seventh year that agency Chief FOIA Officers submitted to the Department of Justice their Chief FOIA Officer Reports detailing all the steps their agencies have taken to embrace the President's and the Department of Justice's 2009 FOIA Memoranda. These Chief FOIA Officer Reports have served as a valuable resource for agencies to describe the various initiatives undertaken to improve their administration of the FOIA. With the completion of agencies’ 2016 Chief FOIA Officer Reports this past Sunshine Week, today OIP releases its summary and assessment of these reports and the progress made in implementing the Department of Justice's 2009 FOIA Guidelines.
Similar to last year, this year’s summary is broken down into five parts detailing the efforts of agencies in each of the five key areas addressed in the Department's 2009 FOIA Guidelines:
- Applying the Presumption of Openness,
- Having Effective Systems for Responding to Requests,
- Making Information Available Proactively,
- Utilizing Technology, and
- Reducing Backlogs and Improving Timeliness.
Agencies and the public are encouraged to read both OIP’s summary and each agency’s individual report to learn more about the various efforts and steps taken over the last reporting year to improve the administration of the FOIA across the government.
In addition to the summary, OIP’s 2016 assessment once again provides a visual snapshot of agency efforts in several key areas of FOIA administration. The assessment is separated between high and low volume FOIA agencies and includes a five-step scoring system, overall scores for each assessed section, and the inclusion of a detailed methodology. The full assessment is provided in both an open format and in PDF.
Finally, as part of the 2016 summary and assessment, OIP has once again included guidance based on our review of the 2016 reports to assist agencies in making further improvements in the years ahead. As concluded in OIP’s summary and assessment, "agencies continue to improve their administration of the FOIA through various initiatives connected to the five key areas established in the Department's 2009 FOIA Guidelines." Based on our review of the reports, OIP's guidance encourages agencies to focus on closing their ten oldest requests and appeals, to successfully post their quarterly FOIA reports throughout the year, and to conduct self-assessments of their FOIA administration to aid in making further improvements in upcoming years.
OIP’s yearly assessment is intended to serve as a vehicle to both recognize agency successes and to identify areas where further improvement can be made. You can read OIP’s 2016 Summary and Assessment of Agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports on our Reports page alongside previous summaries and assessments. OIP’s guidance for further improvement based on our review of agency 2016 Chief FOIA Officer Reports is available as a part of this year’s summary as well as on our Guidance page.