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Government Transparency

Department of Justice’s FOIA Guidelines

Issued during Sunshine Week in March of 2022, the Department of Justice’s FOIA Guidelines “update and strengthen the federal government’s commitment to the fair and effective administration of FOIA.”  Among other things, the Guidelines reiterate a presumption of openness, reinforcing the FOIA’s requirement that information should not be withheld unless the agency can identify a foreseeable harm in disclosure.  The Guidelines also emphasize the importance of proactive disclosures and removing barriers to access.  Agency Chief FOIA Officers are instructed to comprehensively review their FOIA administration, review request backlogs, and evaluate the allocation of agency resources to FOIA operations.  Agencies are also instructed to provide “regular and proper training . . . that explains the importance of FOIA and every individual’s role in administering it,” and the Guidelines encouraged agencies to take advantage of FOIA resources provided by 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

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, 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 Liaison

  • Conducting outreach with open government groups and the open government community, and interested members of the public

  • Testifying before Congress on transparency initiatives

  • Creating to illuminate agency FOIA compliance and to educate the public about how the FOIA works

  • Participating in international transparency events

Updated May 6, 2024