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FOIA Officers Conference Scheduled

The Office of Information and Privacy has scheduled a FOIA Officers Conference to be held on Monday, September 30, 2002, at a Department of Justice conference facility in Washington, D.C.

This conference, for the principal administrative FOIA officers of all federal departments and agencies that are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, is being held primarily to address the subject matter of the current review by the General Accounting Office (GAO) of all agencies' implementation of the provisions of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 ("E-FOIA").

GAO conducted an initial study on governmentwide E-FOIA implementation activities during 2000-2001, leading to the issuance of a report containing recommendations for further agency action in March 2001. See FOIA Post, "GAO E-FOIA Implementation Report Issued" (posted 3/23/01). This report provided an excellent basis for all agencies to review and improve wherever necessary their compliance with E-FOIA's requirements. See id.

Subsequently, in early 2002, Representative Stephen Horn, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management, and Intergovernmental Relations of the House Committee on Government Reform, requested an update of GAO's 2001 E-FOIA implementation report. Chairman Horn, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, asked GAO to examine governmentwide progress on E-FOIA implementation -- in such areas as electronic availability, annual reporting, and backlog reduction -- since the issuance of GAO's March 2001 report. See FOIA Post, "GAO to Update Its E-FOIA Implementation Study" (posted 3/08/02). (Similar interest in such supplemental GAO review was expressed by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who additionally has made a further request for a governmentwide FOIA study that GAO now anticipates commencing soon.)

Accordingly, for the past several months GAO has been conducting a supplemental examination of agency E-FOIA implementation activity, with assistance from the Office of Information and Privacy, and has been preparing an extensive "Update" report documenting continued agency progress in this vital area of FOIA administration. That report is now expected to be issued, in coordination with Chairman Horn's subcommittee, by the end of this month.

The FOIA Officers Conference to be held on September 30 should provide a timely opportunity for all federal agencies to learn the contents of this new GAO report, to review the importance of E-FOIA's requirements, and to focus attention on areas in which continued or additional E-FOIA implementation efforts are required. OIP expects to be able to distribute original copies of GAO's report to all agencies through their attendees at the conference, by special arrangement with GAO in conjunction with Chairman Horn's subcommittee.

This will be the sixth in a series of FOIA Officers Conferences that OIP has conducted in recent years, including two within the past year. As in previous years, invitations will be extended to the principal administrative FOIA officer of each agency directly, who will be advised of the conference's time and location once it is arranged. Agency FOIA personnel can contact Pamela Maida or Tina Adams of OIP, at (202) 514-3642, with any conference-related question.   (posted 9/17/02)

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