The FOIA requires agency Chief FOIA Officers to report to the Attorney General on their performance in implementing the law. Accordingly, since 2009, the Department of Justice has directed agency Chief FOIA Officers to “review all aspects of their agencies’ FOIA administration” and to report annually to the Department of Justice on the efforts undertaken “to improve FOIA operations and facilitate information disclosure at their agencies.” Every year, OIP provides specific guidance to agencies on the content and timing of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports and today we have issued the guidelines for agency 2023 Chief FOIA Officer Reports.
In their 2023 Chief FOIA Officer Reports, OIP requires agencies to report steps taken in five key areas of FOIA administration highlighted in the Attorney General’s 2022 FOIA Guidelines:
- FOIA Leadership and Applying the Presumption of Openness,
- Ensuring Fair and Effective FOIA Administration,
- Proactive Disclosures,
- Steps Taken to Greater Utilize Technology; and
- Steps Taken to Remove Barriers to Access, Improve Timeliness in Responding to Requests, and Reduce Backlogs.
The 2023 Chief FOIA Officer Guidelines once again include separate reporting requirements for agencies depending on the number of FOIA requests received in the prior fiscal year. For 2023, there are two sets of reporting requirements. Agencies that received 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2021 are encouraged to report on any efforts or success stories that are not captured in their Fiscal Year 2022 Annual FOIA Report. All other agencies receiving more than 50 requests have more extensive reporting requirements.
OIP has identified 65 agencies that received more than 50 requests in Fiscal Year 2021. These agencies must submit their draft 2023 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review by no later than January 17, 2023. For the remaining agencies receiving 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2021, if they do have information to report, they must provide their reports by no later than February 10, 2023. A listing of all agencies with a link to their reporting requirements is included at the end of the Guidelines.
Additional details on the review and submission process are included in the Guidelines. OIP will once again host refresher training courses on the preparation of both the 2023 Chief FOIA Officer Reports and the Fiscal Year 2022 Annual FOIA Reports.