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FOIA Audit Update: SEC Shows Further Proof of FOIA Improvements

April 22, 2011

Better late than never...

One of our expectations going into the FOIA audit was that negligent agencies would attempt to improve their final grade.  Indeed, a couple agencies did get in touch to ask what could be done to improve.  Though we cannot make significant changes to the report after its publication, we can give informal credit to agencies that put in the effort to eliminate any shortcomings.

Shortly after the publication of the 2011 Knight Open Government Survey, the FOIA Manager for the Securities and Exchange Commission, John Livornese, called the Archive to ask what his agency could do to achieve the “two steps forward” rating.  In the survey, the SEC was rated at “one step forward” – their FOIA response provided sufficient evidence that they had assessed whether they were devoting adequate resources to responding to FOIA requests promptly and cooperatively.  To improve their rating, the SEC would have to release FOIA training materials or guidance which had been updated to include the principles from President Obama’s 21 January 2009 FOIA memorandum.

About a week later, we received a letter from the SEC containing a new document (Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Processing Guidance for Liaisons).  The guidance indicates that it was revised in 2010, so it serves as a model example of a document that meets the updated FOIA training materials and guidance stipulation.

We can confidently say that the SEC has now met requirements of the “two steps forward” rating.  Also, we credit the SEC with demonstrating concern for promoting an atmosphere of openness that other under-performing agencies have yet to show.

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