Improving the Administration of FOIA

Just last month the second term of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee wrapped up its two years of work by unanimously approving its Final Report and Recommendations. The Committee brings together FOIA requesters and agency FOIA professionals to develop consensus solutions to some of the greatest challenges in the administration of FOIA.

During this term, the Committee wrestled with several critical issues and issued recommendations aimed at promoting the proactive disclosure of records, improving agencies’ ability to identify responsive digital records, and reinforcing that FOIA is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of full-time FOIA professionals. The report also includes a number of best practices that will be published by the Office of Government and Information Services (OGIS) as part of the office’s statutory responsibility to identify procedures and methods to improve FOIA compliance.

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcomes attendees to the final meeting of the 2016-2018 term of the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcomes attendees to the final meeting of the 2016-2018 term of the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018. National Archives photo by Jeff Reed

As the nation’s record keeper, we are tasked with identifying, protecting, preserving and making publicly available the historically valuable records of all three branches of government. We help agencies meet their Federal records management responsibilities through regulations, policies, training and oversight.  Strong records management is the backbone of an efficient, compliant FOIA program and smoother FOIA process. Our role in records management, combined with our role as the Federal FOIA Ombudsman, means that NARA has a critical role to play in pushing forward many of these recommendations. I also look forward to working with counterparts at other key agencies and entities to evaluate and find effective ways to move forward on the Committee’s report.

I look forward to working with OGIS to implement these recommendations. I am also looking forward to announcing the appointment of members to the Committee’s 2018-2020 Term later this summer, and seeing the challenges that the Committee tackles in its next term.

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