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Congress Seeks Explanation from DOJ on Outdated Agency FOIA Regulations

February 6, 2013
Representatives Issa and Cummings, cosignatories of the February 4 letter to OIP.

Representatives Issa and Cummings, cosignatories of the February 4 letter to OIP.

On February 4, 2013, Representatives Darrell E. Issa and Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform respectively, sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy Director (OIP), Melanie Ann Pustay, seeking explanations for outdated agency FOIA regulations. The Archive’s FOIA Regulations Audit was cited as evidence that agencies are not living up to either President Obama’s or Attorney General Eric Holder’s FOIA guidelines.

The letter asks Ms. Pustay to explain, among other things, the following:

  • Why has the Department of Justice, the government-wide standard-bearer for FOIA practices, not updated its own FOIA regulations since 2003?
  • What is Ms. Pustay’s office doing to “ensure agencies are complying with the OPEN Government Act provisions concerning FOIA when assessing fees and determining eligibility for fee waivers?”
  • Has OIP taken any actions to limit the use of FOIA exemptions, specifically Exemption 3?
  • What steps has OIP taken to ensure agencies use exemptions only when necessary, and in compliance with the Attorney General’s guidelines?

“31 agencies have regulations more than a decade old.”

OIP is compelled to reply to the letter no later than February 22, 2013. The National Security Archive is thrilled to see such swift Congressional attention to this incredibly important issue, and looks forward to OIP’s response.

One Comment
  1. February 24, 2013 3:10 pm

    I am glad to see that FOIA requests are supposed to be replied to within a time limit. I also worry that the FOIA can possibly be used for a disiformation campaign.

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