Department of Justice’s FOIA Guidelines
Issued during Sunshine Week in March of 2009, the Department of Justice’s FOIA Guidelines called on all agencies to reaffirm the government’s “commitment to accountability and transparency.” Among other things, the Guidelines stressed the importance of proactive disclosures and timely responses to FOIA requests. Agencies were also instructed to greater utilize technology and to take steps to ensure that they have an effective system for responding to requests. The Guidelines also emphasized that FOIA is everyone’s responsibility and highlighted the key roles played by both FOIA professionals and agency Chief FOIA Officers, who must report each year to the Department of Justice.
DOJ's Open Government Plan
On April 7, 2010, the Department released its Open Government Plan version 1.0, which was updated on June 25, 2010 with the Department's Open Government Plan version 1.1. The Plan emphasizes the special responsibility the Department of Justice has in open government given its guidance and oversight role in agency FOIA compliance.
You can see the flagship initiative for the Department's Open Government Plan version 1.1 in action at FOIA.gov.
On April 9, 2012, the Department released its Open Government Plan version 2.0. This updated plan contains many additional initiatives to continue moving FOIA administration forward with improved utilization of technology, given the Department’s special responsibility in providing guidance and oversight for agency FOIA compliance.
The Department's Open Government Plan version 3.0 was released on June 1, 2014. The flagship initiatives for this plan focused on the leading role of the Department to modernize FOIA through four key initiatives -- standardizing FOIA regulations, developing a consolidated FOIA portal on FOIA.gov, improving internal agency FOIA processes through the sharing of best practices, and improving access to FOIA training through government-wide e-Learning modules and resources.
The Department released its most recent Open Government Plan, version 4.0, on September 15, 2016. Building on the initiatives from the prior plans, this updated plan contains three FOIA commitments, which include promoting proactive disclosures, continuing to develop a consolidated FOIA portal, and developing a FOIA self-assessment toolkit for agencies.
OIP's Efforts to Promote Transparency
OIP engages in a wide variety of initiatives to promote transparency across the government, including:
- Conducting extensive training on all aspects of the FOIA, as well as on overall open government initiatives across the government
- Counseling agencies on questions arising from the FOIA and open government initiatives
- Developing guidance for and reviewing agencies' Annual FOIA Reports and creating a summary of those reports
- Developing guidelines for and reviewing agencies' annual Chief FOIA Officers Reports, and issuing guidance for improvement based on a review of those reports
- Developing and promoting FOIA best practices within the government
- Convening government-wide FOIA conferences and working groups of FOIA professionals, Chief FOIA Officers and FOIA Public Liaisons
- Conducting outreach with open government groups and the open government community, and interested members of the public
- Testifying before Congress on transparency initiatives
- Creating FOIA.gov to illuminate agency FOIA compliance and to educate the public about how the FOIA works
- Participating in international transparency events