FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: POGO Not a Fan of DOJ OIP's Annual FOIA Report

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Another Year Another Unhelpful FOIA Report

By Liz Hempowicz, Project on Government Oversight, May 20, 2016

The Office of Information Policy (OIP) recently published its annual Summary and Assessment of the Chief FOIA Officer Reports for 2016. It’s hard to take their findings seriously, however, when they conclude that agencies earned overwhelmingly positive marks despite growing dissatisfaction among requesters who use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Two good examples of bad methodology can easily be found in the survey questions OIP used to rate both: 1) how well agencies implement the President’s and the Attorney General Holder’s instructions to proactively disclose documents where possible; and 2) how well agencies are reducing their backlogs of FOIA requests. These examples reflect the larger problem with FOIA implementation: that agencies are less focused on the quality of responses and released records, and more about complying with the law’s requirements on paper.

Frequent FOIA requesters are frustrated with both of these aspects, so the perfunctory questions of whether an agency has a process to identify proactive disclosures or if the backlog has decreased don’t get to the root of the problems.

Read more here.