FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: DOJ Agnostic on Timing for Publishing FOIA’d Documents

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

DOJ Agnostic on Timing for Publishing FOIA’d Documents, July 21, 2015

The Justice Department has no current position on whether first requesters should get a priority look at the documents released before they are made available to the public under a planned “release to one, release to all” policy, according to Melanie Ann Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Justice Department.

The timing issue popped up quickly as a hot button topic for scoop-jealous journalists after Justice announced its pilot program to assess the value and costs of more online disclosure of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. (See previous article.) The timing of such online releases will be examined as part of the pilot program being conducted at seven agencies, Pustay said in written answers to questions submitted by

Q: Has Justice made suggestions on the timing of release to requesters vs. release to the public?

A. No. This is one of the areas we will be testing during the pilot. In practical terms, there will usually be some lag time between the time that records are turned over to the original requester, and when they can be scanned and coded for posting. But this is certainly an area we want to study, collect data on and get feedback from outside stakeholders, including journalists. We welcome your views.

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