I am pleased to announce that the inaugural Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee, under the direction of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), submitted a final report and recommendations regarding FOIA Fees, Proactive Disclosure, and Oversight and Accountability.
The Committee’s report and their recommendations is the product of two years of hard work by the Committee to study the current FOIA landscape across the Executive Branch, to provide advice on improving FOIA administration, and to make recommendations to the Archivist of the United States.
OGIS provides leadership, administrative and logistical support for the FOIA Advisory Committee. Director James Holzer serves as the Committee’s Chair, and a member of the OGIS staff acts as the Committee’s Designated Federal Officer (DFO).
Much of the Committee’s work was done by its three subcommittees: FOIA Fees, Oversight and Accountability, and Proactive Disclosures. The DFO attended all of the subcommittees’ meetings and was included on all correspondence between members. OGIS staff also ushered the Fees and Oversight and Accountability Subcommittees through the process necessary to gather new information from agency FOIA professionals about how fees are used and the role of FOIA Public Liaisons. This information improved Committee members’ and public understanding of the issues, and influenced its recommendations.
The Committee prepared this report prior to the final meeting of the 2014 – 2016 term of the Committee, and documents all of the work done by the Committee over its two year term. The report also includes background on the Committee’s creation, summaries of the Committee’s quarterly meetings, and a summary of the work undertaken by the Fees, Oversight and Accountability, and Proactive Disclosures Subcommittees. Far from an end result, Director Holzer intends to use the report as a starting point for the next term of the Committee. The Committee is accepting comments on the recommendation and on the Committee’s Final Report. Please direct all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee’s development of a consensus recommendation is an important milestone: it shows that agencies and requesters can work together to improve the FOIA process. The Committee’s unanimous decision to send forward its first recommendation to the Archivist is also a testament to the importance of transparency, participation, and collaboration.
This report reflects the Committee’s thoughtful and thorough work on this important topic, and I want to thank Director Holzer, the Office of Government Information Services, and the entire FOIA Advisory Committee for their hard work and dedication to this important topic.