Chief Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officers Council
The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (Public Law No. 114-185) created a new Chief FOIA Officer (CFO) Council within the Executive Branch to serve as a forum for collaboration across agencies and with the requester community to explore innovative ways to improve FOIA administration.
The Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council is composed of the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the Director of the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice, agency Chief FOIA Officers, and any other officer or employee of the United States as designated by the co-chairs.
Co-Chairs: Alina M. Semo, Director of OGIS and Bobak Talebian, Director of OIP
The duties of the Council include:
- developing recommendations for increasing FOIA compliance and efficiency;
- disseminating information about agency experiences, ideas, best practices, and innovative approaches related to FOIA;
- identifying, developing, and coordinating initiatives to increase transparency and compliance with FOIA; and
- promoting the development and use of common performance measures for agency compliance with FOIA.
Council meetings are open to the public and notice of all meetings will be provided in the Federal Register at least ten business days in advance. Please see this webpage and OIP's webpage for further information.
In October 2020, the CFO Council co-chairs established the Committee on Cross-Agency Collaboration and Innovation (COCACI) to research and propose cross-agency grant programs and funding sources, create federal career paths for FOIA professionals, and promote models to align agency resources with agency transparency. COCACI began meeting in March 2021 and will focus on the following three topics areas: virtual FOIA office administration; the Government Information Specialist (GIS) job series; and technology standardization.
In September 2018, the CFO Council co-chairs established the Technology Subcommittee (later renamed as the Technology Committee) to study the utilization and deployment of technology in FOIA programs across agencies, and identify best practices and recommendations that can be implemented across agencies.
In 2020, the Technology Committee established the following seven interagency working groups: 508 Compliance and Collaborative Tools, Artificial Intelligence, FOIA and Classified Information, FOIA Searches, FOIAonline, FOIAXpress, Video Review and Redactions
Wed, November 17 - Meeting
- Federal Register Notice
- Presentation Slides
- Meeting Minutes
- YouTube Video - Livestream
- Public Comments Submitted after the Meeting
- Annual FOIA Report Data
- Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council Website
- Exemption 5 Case - Supreme Court Opinion Issued in United States Fish & Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, 592 U.S. ___ (2021).
- Federal FOIA Advisory Committee Recommendations Dashboard
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-19-10, Guidance for Achieving Interoperability with the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Portal on FOIA.gov(Feb 12, 2019)
- Memorandum from the Department of Justice to Agency General Counsels and Chief FOIA Officers regarding Chief FOIA Officer Designations (Jan 30, 2019)
- Stay Up to Date on FOIA Activities
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP) co-hosted an “Artificial Intelligence 101” webinar for agency FOIA professionals presented by the Technology Committee of the Chief FOIA Officers Council.
Across the government, agencies are exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-adjacent technologies, such as technology assisted review, can be leveraged to fulfill agency missions and better serve the public. Leveraging these technologies holds great potential to improve efficiency and accuracy in agency FOIA administration. We invited agency FOIA professionals to join us for a presentation from the AI Working Group of the CFO Council Technology Committee. The purpose of this session was to provide agency FOIA professionals a primer on different types of AI and AI-adjacent technologies, key terms, and possible applications to the FOIA process.
The webinar was open to government personnel and contractors only and registration was required to receive information on how to access the meeting online.
Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 - Kirsten Moncada, Privacy Branch Chief, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
2020 Chief FOIA Officer Report Guidelines - Bobak Talebian, Chief, FOIA Compliance Staff, Office of Information Policy
Report by CFO Council Technology Subcommittee - Co-Chairs Eric Stein, Director, Office of Information Programs and Services, U.S. Department of State and Michael Sarich, FOIA Director, Central Office, Office of Health Informatics, Veterans Health Administration
- Federal Register Notice
- Presentation Slides
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Presentation Slides
- Meeting Minutes
- FOIA Searches: Key Challenges and Findings - Technology Committee of the Chief FOIA Officers Council (September 29, 2021)
- Best Practices for Video Redaction - Technology Committee of the Chief FOIA Officers Council (July 29, 2021)
- Report of the Technology Committee of the Chief FOIA Officers Council – Best Practices and Recommendations (February 14, 2020)
“Not less frequently than annually, the Council shall hold a meeting that shall be open to the public and permit interested persons to appear and present oral and written statements to the Council.” (5 U.S.C. § 552(k)(6)(B)) There is no requirement for the Council to respond, either orally or in writing, to any person who submits comments, although the Council may respond at its discretion. There is no requirement for the Council to post submitted written comments to its website (although OGIS has done so in the past).
You may submit your comments for the Council to the following: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before submitting public comments, please read our Posting Policy for Public Comments.
Oral comments presented to the Chief FOIA Officers Council are available in the meeting transcripts posted to this page and in the videos of the Council meetings posted to the National Archives and Records Administration's YouTube Channel.
Public Comments Submitted to the CFO Council
- Robert Hammond - May 3, 2021 - Recommended System Change Requests to FOIAonline. Including Simple Solution for "Release to One, Release to All"
- Robert Hammond - May 3, 2021 - OGIS Mediation and DOD’s change to CFR 32 CFR part 286.4
- Robert Hammond - May 3, 2021 - Status of 2018 - 2020 Recommendation #19
- Robert Hammond - May 3, 2021 - Violations of the ADA in FOIA Redactions