FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Interior's FOIA process under scrutiny

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Interior's internal FOIA policy gives political appointees sign-off on document releases, raising concerns

By Ellie Kaufman, CNN, June 18, 2019

The Interior Department has developed a second, undisclosed internal Freedom of Information Act review policy, which requires certain political appointees to sign off on documents before releasing them publicly, according to internal emails and documents reviewed by CNN.

This extra layer of review, established in a draft memo in May 2018 that CNN has viewed, requires the deputy chief of staff, director of communications and the deputy solicitor to be copied on documents that mention politically appointed staff members before they are released in response to a FOIA request, a process critics say is injecting politics into what is supposed to be a nonpolitical process.

Read more here.

[ALB comment: Newsworthy, but not groundbreaking. Treasury, for example, established a sensitive review process during the Obama Administration. See https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/06/obama-administrations-newly-political-approach-foias-eliana-johnson/. Many other agencies have employed similar processes. See https://causeofaction.org/tag/sensitive-review/].