12 Days of Open Government Resolutions – Day 4: Update Agency FOIA Regulations

Each post in the series of posts we plan to publish between now and December 25 focuses on a resolution the Obama Administration realistically can use to make the federal government more open and accountable in the coming year. See below for links to previous resolutions.

Open Government Resolution 4 for the Obama Administration – Direct Agencies to Update their FOIA Regulations

A recent government-wide FOIA audit conducted by our friends at the National Security Archive found that agency FOIA regulations are woefully out-of-date with changes in the federal government's policy and law. Sixty-two out of ninety-nine government agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since Attorney General Holder’s 2009 FOIA memorandum directed agencies to process FOIA requests with the presumption of disclosure. The OPEN Government Act of 2007 seemed to leave little impression as well—fifty-six agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since the statute mandated reformed fee structures, and request-tracking numbers.

FOIA regulations are an essential tool FOIA officers use to make decisions while processing requests. Without updated regulations, the implementation of FOIA will remain out of sync with the culture of openness announced by the Administration.

The Administration should direct all agencies to update their FOIA regulations to reflect the Holder memo, and all applicable changes to law. Agencies should also be encouraged to work with the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and to incorporate the "best practices" suggested by the National Security Archives into the regulations.

12 Days of Open Government Resolutions for the Obama Administration:

Resolution 1: Begin gathering public input for Version 2 of the US National Action Plan

Resolution 2: Make it easier for the public to track agencies’ open government work

Resolution 3: Encourage Agencies to Join FOIAOnline

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