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Updated FOIA Self-Assessment Toolkit Now Available

Today, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) posted a comprehensive update to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Self-Assessment Toolkit.  This update fulfills one of the Department’s commitments from the Fifth U.S. Open Government National Action Plan to strengthen access to government information through the FOIA.  The Toolkit, originally issued in 2017, is a resource for agencies to use when assessing their administration of the FOIA.  OIP has encouraged agencies to conduct self-assessments and many agencies have reported doing so in their Chief FOIA Officer Reports in recent years. 

The FOIA Self-Assessment Toolkit now consists of 15 modules, each focusing on a distinct aspect of the FOIA process, such as Initial Mail Intake, Adjudicating Requests for Expedited Processing, and Searching for Responsive Records.  The 2023 update contains new modules covering Proactive Disclosures and Administrative Appeals.  Each module contains various milestones to help agencies evaluate their FOIA programs and identify areas for improvement.  At the end of each module, OIP offers best practices and guidance covering the topic. The Toolkit uses an evidence-based approach to help agencies objectively and meaningfully evaluate their performance.     

In addition to the two new modules for Proactive Disclosures and Administrative Appeals, the 2023 update contains new or revised milestones throughout all modules to address the use of technology, allocation of resources, and use of data to further agency FOIA administration.  The Toolkit also incorporates requirements from the Attorney General’s 2022 FOIA Guidelines and the latest OIP guidance.  Finally, to make it easier for agencies to complete the assessment and track progress towards achieving milestones, OIP has made available fillable spreadsheets containing all milestones and visual snapshots of agencies’ progress. 

OIP encourages all agencies to use the Self-Assessment Toolkit to assist them in examining their FOIA programs.  We welcome feedback for future updates.  By continuing to identify areas for improvement and implement changes, agencies can further refine their administration of the FOIA and enhance the services provided to the public.  

Updated March 9, 2023