Agencies to designate chief FOIA officers

Federal agencies must designate a chief Freedom of Information Act officer by Jan. 13, and each new officer will review the agency’s FOIA operations and develop an improvement plan by June, according to a memo.

Released Dec. 30 by the Office of Management and Budget, the memo states that each agency must send a report on its FOIA operations and its improvement plan to the Justice Department and OMB by June 14. Agencies will also post the improvement plans on their Web sites.

The chief FOIA officer will be responsible for agencywide compliance with FOIA and oversee the program’s implementation, the memo states. The officer will designate several public liaisons and post their contact information on the agency’s Web site. The liaisons will serve as supervisors who review concerns about services.

President Bush issued an executive order Dec. 14 that directs agency leaders to ensure citizen-centered and results-oriented FOIA operations. In fiscal 2006 and 2007 FOIA reports, agencies will include information regarding the milestones made in FOIA improvement plans.

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