White House Assesses FOIA Commitments

The White House in a spotlight
The National Action Plan puts open government (and FOIA) in the spotlight.
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In its March 29 self-assessment of the National Action Plan, the White House evaluated its progress on the two FOIA-related components of that plan: professionalizing FOIA administration and harnessing the power of technology.

During Sunshine Week 2012, the Office of Personnel Management announced the creation of the Government Information Series. This specialized field within the Executive Branch includes FOIA and Privacy Act professionals and provides for tailored job descriptions to recognize their unique roles. Agencies are currently re-working the descriptions for these positions to reflect the specialized skills needed to carry out FOIA’s requirements. The enhanced job series recognizes the essential and important role that FOIA professionals fulfill.

The assessment discussed several ways that agencies have harnessed technology to improve the FOIA process. The administration mentioned the new FOIAonline portal as an example of a  centralized FOIA administration system and library. The report also mentioned that more than 100 Federal offices currently use online portals to receive FOIA requests from the public.

The National Action Plan is a set of 26 commitments intended to increase public integrity, promote public participation, manage public resources more effectively and improve public service. It was created as part of the administration’s participation with the global Open Government Partnership, an international effort to improve government through transparent, effective and accountable governing.