Chief Freedom of Information Act Officers Council Meeting Minutes – October 4, 2018
The Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council Meeting convened at 10:00 a.m. on October 4, 2018, in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) William G. McGowan Theater –700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20408.
A livestream video of the meeting was also made available, and in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 552(k)(6)(B), the meeting was open to the public “permit[ting] interested persons to appear and present oral and written statements to the Council.”
All meeting materials are available on the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) websites at: https://www.justice.gov/oip and https://www.archives.gov/ogis/about-ogis/chief-foia-officers-council.
- Alina M. Semo, Director, OGIS, NARA, Council Co-Chair
- David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, NARA
- Melanie Ann Pustay, Director, OIP, Department of Justice (DOJ), Council Co-Chair
- Ms. Semo welcomed everyone to the second Council meeting of 2018 and reviewed the agenda.
- Mr. Ferriero outlined the purpose of the Council, which is to develop recommendations to increase agency compliance with the FOIA, increase efficiency, develop performance measures and best practices, and coordinate initiatives to increase transparency. Mr. Ferriero encouraged all to review the 2016-2018 FOIA Advisory Committee’s Final Report and Recommendations for best practices.
- Ms. Pustay welcomed everyone and congratulated everyone for finishing out the fiscal year. She shared that OIP has created an At-A-Glance Resource to assist agencies with tracking their reporting obligations. She also reminded the group that OIP had updated FOIA training dates.
- Ms. Semo informed the group that they have formed a Technology Subcommittee, which was one of the recommendations from the FOIA Advisory Committee. Ms. Semo also announced three subcommittees that were formed for the 2018-2020 Term of the FOIA Advisory Committee:
- Records management - Co-Chaired by Jason Baron (Drinker, Biddle & Reath) and Ryan Law (Treasury)
- Vision – Co-Chaired by Joan Kaminer (EPA) and Chris Knox (Deloitte)
- Time/Volume – Co-Chaired by Emily Creighton (AIC) and Bradley White (DHS)
- The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 29th at NARA.
- Ms. Semo introduced Kirsten Mitchell, Designated Federal Officer for 2018-2020 Term of the FOIA Advisory Committee.
Discussion on Best Practices Identified by the 2016-2018 FOIA Advisory Committee
- Ms. Semo summarized the Best Practices portion of the FOIA Advisory Committee’s recommendations including the need for updated fee guidance, improving search technology, accessibility of records for individuals with disabilities, and expanding the use of performance standards.
- Best practices were then categorized depending on whether they could be implemented immediately, medium-term, and long-term. Those that could be implemented right away included: working with requesters early in the process, bringing in talent, using technology, and making documents accessible. Medium-term best practices included: centralizing management of the FOIA process, accountability through employee performance evaluations, building career paths for staff, and specific recommendations for proactive disclosures. Long-term best practices included: use of tracking systems, hiring interns, detailees, and contractors, and technology.
Discussion on Best Practices and DOJ Guidance
- Ms. Pustay continued the discussion of best practices, drawing from various OIP guidance pieces and Best Practices Workshops. The discussion focused on four categories: proactive communication, effective case management, increased proactive disclosures, and enhanced use of IT.
- Good communication includes providing status updates upon request, assigning tracking numbers to requests, and assisting requesters with narrowing requests. Ms. Pustay also described the roles and responsibilities of FOIA Public Liaison and the FOIA Requester Service Centers. Multi-track processing of simple versus complex requests and reducing backlogs by focusing on the ten oldest requests were highlighted as tenets of effective case management. Proactive disclosures can also improve efficiency because they enable requesters to find frequently requested documents online without having to make a request. Finally, technology enables agencies to better meet the ever-increasing demand for records.
Q & A Session
- Ms. Pustay and Ms. Semo opened the floor and responded to various questions and comments.
- Ms. Semo thanked everyone and closed the meeting.
List of Registered Attendees
- Ruth Abrams
- Candace Ambrose
- Michael Bell
- Amy Bennett
- June Brown
- Virginia Burke
- Cindy Cafaro
- Noelle Chadwick
- Lillian Cheng
- Garfield Daley
- Joan Davis
- Erin Dawson
- Starr Ellis
- Timothy Epp
- A Fong
- Helen Guyton
- Robin Henderson
- Nancy Humphrey
- Kim Hutchinson
- Andrea Kearney
- Karin Kelly
- David Kligerman
- Paul Levitan
- Travis Lewis
- Nadine Mancini
- Michael Marquis
- Elizabeth Meehan
- Timothy Noelker
- Ramona Oliver
- Elise Packard
- Mohammad Pervaiz
- Nancy Platt
- Rachel Rikleen
- Viktoria Seale
- Danaeka Spear
- Dione Stearns
- Amelia Strauss
- Carol Swain
- Bobak Talebian
- Kimberly Veach
- Ana Velilla
- Jane Virga
- Brian Walch
- Sarah Weingast
- Nancy Weiss
- Jeanean West