The Office of Information Policy (OIP) is honored to be selected by the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP) as the recipient its Directors’ Award for Superior Public Service. The award is among the highest honors granted by ASAP and recognizes OIP’s “superior contribution, sustained excellence and special benefit provided to the Society and to the public with respect to access, privacy and fair information laws, policies and practices.”
ASAP is an independent, nongovernmental association comprised of FOIA and Privacy Act professionals, journalists, members of open government groups, and college and university faculty and staff “dedicated to bringing government FOIA and Privacy Act personnel in touch with the requester community.” OIP has a long history of providing instructors to ASAP’s training programs.
Since the issuance of President Obama’s FOIA Memorandum and Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines, we have issued guidance to agencies on their implementation and addressed a range of issues designed to improve FOIA administration. Within this past year, we have released the following guidance:
- Guidance establishing procedures that streamline the referral and consultation process, enhance agency accountability for the handling of these records, and ensure that FOIA requesters are not disadvantaged by the process,
- Guidance emphasizing the importance of agencies reducing the age of any FOIA backlogs by closing their ten oldest pending requests and consultations,
- Guidance for further improvement based on agencies’ 2012 Chief FOIA Officer Reports, including encouraging agencies to consider the use of more advanced technologies for the core elements of FOIA processing, to consider multi-track processing as a means of improving timeliness, and to make it a priority to close their ten oldest pending requests each year, and
- New guidance on implementing of the FOIA’s statutory exclusions that ensures greater transparency and accountability.
We have also provided extensive training to FOIA professionals on these subjects and many other issues concerning the FOIA, including the President’s and Attorney General’s FOIA Memoranda, proactive disclosures, procedural considerations, the proper application of FOIA exemptions, recent developments, and the importance of customer service. During 2012, Director Melanie Pustay and staff provided training to thousands of FOIA professionals across the government. Additionally, OIP continues to reach out to the public and the requester community by regularly hosting Requester Roundtables where frequent requesters and open government groups have an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss important FOIA issues with agency professionals.
OIP and the Department also continue to enhance the FOIA.gov to provide more functionality for agency FOIA professionals and the requester community. This past year a new search feature was added to the website that allows the public to instantly search for information on any topic that has already been made available on a federal government website. Additionally, FOIA.gov provides links to agency online request forms, which makes it easier to make requests. Further, as recently announced on FOIA Post, in addition to allowing users to view and sort through agencies’ Annual FOIA Report data, beginning January 2013, FOIA.gov will also include the quarterly reporting of key FOIA statistics from all agencies.
We look forward to building on our accomplishments and working with both agencies and the public in continuing to implement President Obama’s FOIA Memorandum and Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines.
For further information on training offered by OIP, including dates for upcoming training and presentation materials, please visit our Training page.