Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

FOIA Advisory Committee Recommendations

The Federal FOIA Advisory Committee reports to the Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) who chartered the Committee in May 2014.  The first four terms of the FOIA Advisory Committee made a total of 31 recommendations for improving FOIA administration across the government: one in 2016; seven in 2018; 22 in 2020; and one in 2021.  The FOIA Advisory Committee Recommendations Dashboard provides information about the status of the recommendations .

Accordion

At its June 10, 2021 meeting, the 2020-2022 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee voted on and approved the followin recommendation.* 

Recommendation No.  2021-01
Congress should adopt rules or enact legislation to establish procedures for effecting public access to legislative branch records in the possession of congressional support offices and agencies modeled after those procedures contained in the Freedom of Information Act. These should include requirements for proactive disclosure of certain information, procedures governing public requests for records, time limits for responding to requests, exemptions to be narrowly applied, and an appeal from any initial decision to deny access.

* The final report of the 2020-2022 term is expected in the summer of 2022. 

In its July 9, 2020, Final Report and Recommendations to the Archivist of the United States, the 2018-2020 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee made the following recommendations:
 
Recommendation No. 2020-01

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will assess information about the FOIA filing process available on agency websites, with the goal of informing further the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP) guidance on how agencies may improve online descriptions of the process.

Recommendation No. 2020-02
The Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will issue guidance related to the inclusion of records management-related materials and FOIA handbooks on agency websites.

Recommendation No. 2020-03
Agencies will work toward the goal of collecting, describing, and giving access to FOIA-released records in one or more central repositories, and on agency websites.

Recommendation No. 2020-04
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will offer records management training to FOIA officers and FOIA Public Liaisons in federal agencies, and include a FOIA module in records management training courses open to all federal employees.

Recommendation No. 2020-05
The Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will issue guidance requesting agencies to provide annual mandatory FOIA training to all new and current employees and contractors. The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and OIP will review agencies’ current FOIA training requirements and content.

Recommendation No. 2020-06
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will assist agencies in developing FOIA and records management briefings for incoming senior leaders following changes in administration or leadership.

Recommendation No. 2020-07
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will review the FOIA performance measures used in Agency Performance Plans and Reports, encourage agencies to include FOIA in their performance plans and submit the results of their review and any recommendations to Congress and the President.

Recommendation No. 2020-08
The Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will collect information as part of Chief FOIA Officer Reports regarding standard operating procedures (SOPs) for FOIA processing.

Recommendation No. 2020-09
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will incorporate and further develop the idea of public access to federal records, including through FOIA, as part of its Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative (FERMI).

Recommendation No. 2020-10
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will establish liaisons with the Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council to ensure that Council officials understand the importance of federal recordkeeping and FOIA requirements.

Recommendation No. 2020-11
The Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will provide guidance to agencies on the use of e-discovery tools to assist agencies in their searches of electronic records in response to FOIA requests.

Recommendation No. 2020-12
Agencies will publicly release FOIA documents on their FOIA websites and portals in open, legible, machine-readable and machine-actionable formats, to the extent feasible.

Recommendation No. 2020-13
Agencies will review their FOIA-related technological and staffing capabilities within two years to identify the resources needed to respond to current and anticipated future FOIA demands.

Recommendation No. 2020-14
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), will help agencies explore and consider alternative, more efficient ways for requesters to access records about themselves.

Recommendation No. 2020-15
Agencies will make commonly requested documents available outside of the FOIA process, including in publicly accessible online databases.

Recommendation No. 2020-16
The Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council will create a committee to research and propose cross-agency grant programs and other FOIA funding sources, create career paths for FOIA professionals, and promote models to align agency resources with agency transparency.

Recommendation No. 2020-17
The Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council will work with agency leadership to issue an annual memorandum on the importance of FOIA. 

Recommendation No. 2020-18
The Archivist of the United States will ask the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to consider a cross-cutting project examining how successful agency FOIA programs are in providing access to agency records in electronic and digital form.

Recommendation No. 2020-19
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will ask Congress to engage in regular and robust oversight of FOIA, hold more hearings, establish regular and coordinated communication with agencies around FOIA issues, and strengthen OGIS with clearer authority and expanded resources.

Recommendation No. 2020-20
The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will ask Congress to address funding for agency FOIA programs and ensure that agencies have sufficient resources to comply with the FOIA.

Recommendation No. 2020-21
The Archivist of the United States will actively guide ongoing and future federal data strategies to include FOIA and federal recordkeeping policies.

Recommendation No. 2020-22
The Archivist of the United States will promote research into the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve FOIA searches and efficiently process FOIA requests. 

In its April 17, 2018 Final Report and Recommendations to the Archivist of the United States, the 2016-2018  term of the FOIA Advisory Committee made the following recommendations:
 
Recommendation No. 2018-01
The Archivist of the United States will propose that the Chief FOIA Officers (CFO) Council establish a technology subcommittee, in partnership with the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, to study the utilization and deployment of FOIA technology across agencies and identify best practices and recommendations to implement across agencies.

Recommendation 2018-02
The Archivist of the United States will request that the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP), collect detailed information, as part of each agency’s Chief FOIA Officer (CFO) Report, regarding the specific methods and technologies agencies are using to search their electronic records, including email.

Recommendation No. 2018-03
The Archivist of the United States will suggest a modification to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require all agencies, when acquiring electronic records management software, electronic mail software, and other records related information technology, to consider features that will help facilitate the agencies’ responsibilities under FOIA to provide access to federal agency records.” [The FAR governs how federal agencies acquire goods and services through purchase or lease.]

Recommendation No. 2018-04
The Archivist of the United States will launch an interagency effort to develop standard requirements for FOIA processing tools, to ensure that both the tools and their outputs are Section 508-compliant. [Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires, among other things, that all records posted to agency websites be accessible to people with disabilities unless doing so would pose an “undue burden” on the agency.]

Recommendation No. 2018-05
The Archivist of the United States will request that the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) conduct an assessment of the methods undertaken by agencies to prepare documents for posting on agency FOIA reading rooms.

Recommendation No. 2018-06
The Archivist of the United States will encourage the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to highlight the issues with proactive disclosure and Section 508 compliance in its report to Congress by recommending that legislation be enacted to clarify agency requirements under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794d, especially as they relate to proactive posting of large numbers of records.

Recommendation No. 2018-7
The Archivist of the United States will direct the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to examine the use of appropriate performance standards in federal employee appraisal records and work plans to ensure compliance with the requirements of FOIA and OGIS will submit the results of its assessment and any recommendations to Congress and the President in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 552(h)(5).

In its April 17, 2016, Final Report and Recommendations to the Archivist of the United States, the 2014-2016 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee made the following recommendations:
 
Recommendation No. 2016-01
The Archivist of the United States will recommend to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that it update its 1987 OMB Guidelines for FOIA Fees, which govern FOIA fees government-wide.

 

 

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