Open Gov

FOIA advisers push for more proactive disclosure

Online document management (Jirsak/ 

A federal advisory committee finalized a series of draft recommendations for the National Archivist and agencies to improve management of the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOIA Advisory Committee approved 37 recommendations for agencies to implement, 23 of which cover the topics of process management and proactive disclosure.

Agencies were advised not to remove legally posted documents already on agency websites, to improve communication with requesters, train FOIA professionals to manage records and use metrics such as case closures, pages reviewed and quality requirements as part of employee performance evaluations.

Other recommendations included expanding the use of tracking records, allocating resources for agency IT experts to work with FOIA officials for electronic searches, creating rotational career programs to get younger employees into FOIA, plus using interns or temporary staff for time-consuming tasks such as data entry.

The committee also recommended agencies adopt a centralized, departmentwide FOIA tracking platform or at least consolidate to fewer tracking systems.

On the proactive disclosure front, committee recommended agencies publish meeting and travel schedules of top officials within one month, release declassified documents, disclose their top 10 largest contracts, task orders or grants, as well as release documentation of lobbying activities.

The committee also recommended a series of specific actions broken into three main categories: search technology, accessibility and performance standards.

The committee finalized recommendations for the Chief FOIA Officers Council to establish a technology subcommittee to study how agencies use and deploy technology relating to FOIA and  a change in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to require agencies to consider FOIA responsibilities when procuring new IT.

“You have my commitment to support your work,” National Archivist David Ferriero told the committee.

"I look forward to receiving and reviewing the committee’s final report and recommendations, and more importantly, look forward to figuring out how to implement them," he said.

The FOIA committee's charter had been extended for two more years. The deadline to nominate candidates to become committee members for the next term is June 1.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.