Department of Justice Open Government Progress Report December 2014

Bureau of Prisons (BOP) | Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) | National Security Division (NSD) | Office of the Chief Information Office (OCIO) | Office of Information Policy (OIP) | Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL) | United States Trustee Program (USTP)

Since the release of the Department of Justice’s Open Government Plan 3.0 on June 1, 2014, Department components have been working hard to implement the commitments made. Following is a snapshot of the status as of December 31, 2014, of some of these commitments. You can find further details on each of these in the Plan

Our last status report was dated August 28, 2014.

 

Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

Website:  To assist government agencies, correctional partners, and other interested parties, a new area with Health Management Resources was developed for the BOP’s public website. The area provides reference information on the BOP’s infectious disease management plans, as well as Clinical Practice Guidelines. 

Parenting and Community Reentry:  This quarter we provided new opportunities for the inmate population by hosting two “Daddy-Daughter Dances” and a “Mommy and Me Tea.”  These programs were held to support our parenting and reentry initiatives, and were specifically intended to reach the children of incarcerated parents.

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Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

DEA updated our two public-facing websites with complete re-designs. Just Think Twice is geared towards teens and young adults with an anti-drug message; and Get Smart About Drugs is designed for parents and those with responsibilities for caring for children and young adults.

Also, DEA released a new public version of the National Drug Threat Assessment. Prior to 2013 this was a publication of National Drug Intelligence Center, which was merged into DEA. 

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National Security Division (NSD)

The National Security Cyber Specialist Network (NSCS) is working to increase outreach to private sector businesses in order to provide threat information and resources to companies in the wake of a cyber incident.  Updated outreach materials have been produced and disseminated to NSCS AUSA representatives around the country.

The Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) recently made improvements to its public website.  The website updates aim to provide the public increased access to OVT programs and initiatives.

Individuals in the Foreign Agents Registration Section (FARA) Unit continue to meet with information technology specialists to improve the FARA database.  At a recent meeting, the IT team provided demonstrations of redaction tools and the FARA Unit provided feedback.  They also showed FARA a demonstration of a web-based upgrade to eFile, as well as a spreadsheet option to the eFile upgrade.  FARA will likely choose the web-based option. Next steps:  IT will make some changes to the web-based product and the group will meet again.

A meeting with IT staff next week will focus on two redactions tools, one of which operates with Kofax, and the other within the Livelink environment.  IT Staff will also demonstrate two proof of concept methods for registrants to enter supplemental information in questions 11, 12, 14, and 15. 

NSD is working with the Office of Public Affairs and IT Staff to improve its public website.  The updated website will feature more information, photos and website links relating to topics that are of interest and useful to the public.

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Office of the Chief Information Office (OCIO)

Open Data:  On November 30th, the Office of CIO posted a new list of data sets that are available on Data.gov.  That list now includes over 1100 data sets, an increase of more than 35% over the previous list.  The list has also been converted to comply with the new Open Data format.  In addition, we revised the Digital Strategy page and the Open Data page to bring the content up to date.  Finally, with the transition of Justice.gov to the new Drupal based content management system, the Open Data page now has a tool that allows component content managers to update their portions of the Public Data List directly as new data sets are published.

APIs:  In December, DOJ announced the launch of two new digital services: the DOJ News API and the DOJ Law Jobs API.  These web APIs (application programming interfaces) provide web developers the ability to build mobile apps and other software applications that can search, sort and filter thousands of press releases, speeches, blog posts and law job vacancy announcements published by the Department.  This launch transforms collections of website documents into a transparent, interactive dataset.

The API launch was part of an effort led by the Office of the Chief Information Officer to replace the aging technology infrastructure of Justice.gov with a cloud-based, open source website management platform that will be used by hundreds of Department of Justice component offices across the country.  This website upgrade adds search, sort, and filter capabilities to thousands of Supreme Court briefs, legal opinions, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) court decisions, Congressional testimony, and more.  To get started using the APIs or to learn more about developer resources from the Department, see www.justice.gov/developer

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Office of Information Policy (OIP)

Drafting a Common FOIA Regulation: In our 3.0 Plan, the Department announced that it would take the lead on the National Action Plan initiative to evaluate the feasibility of developing a potential common or core FOIA regulation applicable to all agencies.

  • Status:  This initiative is well under way.  OIP had kicked off the initiative in May 2014 by meeting with stakeholders both inside and outside the government.  Prior to this kickoff meeting, OIP also held a meeting with interested members of civil society to receive their feedback and ideas from the very beginning of the project.  Since then, OIP has formed an interagency task force comprising separate teams responsible for each part of the FOIA regulation.  OIP also facilitated several meetings with those teams and civil society organizations to discuss in more detail the possible content of each specific subsection of the common regulation.  The teams are now working on high-level outlines for this project and we plan to continue to engage with civil society throughout the entire process.

Developing a Consolidated FOIA Portal: In our 3.0 Plan, the Department also committed to funding this project and to serving as a key member of the project's task force, in close collaboration with the Office of the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

  • Status:  DOJ has provided funding for this project and is serving as a lead, working very closely with GSA and the task force on its development.

Improving Internal Agency Processes: The Department committed to holding a series of agency Best Practices workshops focused on specific topics concerning agencies' FOIA administration.

  • Status:  OIP launched this initiative in May 2014 and so far has held four workshops, which were a great success.  These workshops focused on agency efforts to reduce backlogs, improve proactive disclosures, implement best practices observed by requesters, and utilize technology to improve FOIA processing.  You can read about all of these events on OIP's blog, FOIA Post.  OIP also recently launched a designated page on its website that provides all of the best practices highlighted at these sessions as a resource for all agencies.  The next workshop, which will be held on February 18, 2015, will focus on "Customer Service & Dispute Resolution."

Improving FOIA Training Across the Government Through e-Learning: The Department committed to developing a suite of e-Learning training modules for all levels of the federal workforce.

  • Status: OIP is in the final stages of developing these training resources and expects them to be ready for rollout in February 2015.

Other OIP Commitments

FOIA Libraries: The Department committed to directing all components to review and update their FOIA Libraries on a set schedule.

  • Status: To be completed.

Proactive Disclosures: The Department committed to issuing a series of guidance documents on proactive disclosures.

  • Status: This guidance is currently being drafted and will be posted soon.

Litigation Review (ASG/CIV/OIP Commitment): The Department will review a snapshot of its FOIA litigation for application of the AG's 2009 Guidelines.

  • Status: Currently pending and to be completed.

Component Improvement Initiative: We agreed to conduct a wide-range view of each Department component's FOIA operation to identify causes contributing to backlogs and areas where they can make improvements, as well as to share best practices that have resulted in success with other components.

  • Status:  OIP has completed its initial review and outreach as part of its Component Improvement Initiative.  Throughout Fiscal Year 2015, OIP will be implementing a number of recommendations developed from this initiative.  Additionally, OIP has implemented the first Annual Improvement Action Plan, which is customized to each individual component, and will carry forward the work started with the Component Improvement Initiative. 

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Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties

The Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer (CPCLO) and the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL) have taken a number of steps to implement the commitments made in the Department’s Open Government Plan 3.0, including:

Improve Privacy Compliance

  • Component Meetings: The CPCLO and OPCL have continued to meet with Department components to gather information about component privacy programs.  In 2014, the CPCLO and OPCL met with the Senior Component Officials for Privacy (SCOPs) and other leadership of many large components.  Future meetings with other components have been scheduled, and the CPCLO and OPCL continue to hold regular meetings with components as issues arise.

  • Social Media Compliance: OPCL has continued to work with the Department’s Web 2.0 Policy Working Group to ensure the Department’s use of social media and other communications technologies are compliant with applicable privacy laws and policies. 

  • Open Data Policy: OPCL is also working with the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) on DOJ Open Data Policy issues.  The Department’s Interim Open Data Identification and Release Process serves as the Department’s guidance for identifying and releasing Department information and data to the public and posting that information on the Department’s website.

    Increase Transparency of Privacy Policies

  • Outreach with Advocacy Groups and Other Agencies: The CPCLO and OPCL have also worked with various advocacy groups and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to address privacy concerns, as well as ways to improve agency outreach.  Moreover, the CPCLO and OPCL have met with other federal agencies to improve interagency coordination, and to discuss agency privacy practices and common concerns.  These meetings enable OPCL to review and assess the Department’s information and privacy-related policies, and make improvements where appropriate and necessary.

  • Data & Civil Rights Conference: The CPCLO and OPCL participated in the Data & Society Research Institute’s conference on why “big data” is a civil rights issue.  The event convened representatives from the civil rights community, industry, government, philanthropy, and research.

  • Access to Privacy Policies and Compliance Reports: The CPCLO and OPCL have been participating in meetings with the White House, the PCLOB, and other federal agencies to discuss ways to improve the privacy reports required by Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.  Discussions on improving such reports are still ongoing.

    Enhance Sharing of Best Practices on Data Privacy

  • Privacy Best Practices Resources: The CPCLO submitted to the White House a sampling of the Department’s privacy resources made available to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) have developed a suite of privacy resources to support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to implement privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties policies and protections for the information they access, collect, store, maintain, share, and disseminate.

  • Outreach with State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement Entities: The CPCLO also submitted to the White House a description of the conferences and in-person meetings provided by the Department in 2014 in order to enhance collaboration and information sharing about privacy best practices among state and local law enforcement agencies receiving federal grants.  This privacy outreach is ongoing, and occurs regularly throughout the country.

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United States Trustee Program (USTP)

Since August 1, 2014, we have posted six new Language Assistance Program data sets on our website that will be linked to data.gov.  We also updated one dataset, providing the second half of CY 13 data for the chapter 7 asset case data set.

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Updated May 1, 2015

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