The use of “still interested” letters is a hot topic in the FOIA community, both with requesters and agencies.
In October 2014, about a dozen organizations representing the interests of the requester community wrote to the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to request that we look into the use of these letters to administratively close requests. Nine months after OGIS received this request, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice issued updated guidance on agency use of the letters. The guidance directs agencies to limit the use of the letters and improve communication with requesters.
In a recent letter responding to the organizations’ 2014 request, Director Holzer announced that OGIS’s review team will pay particular attention to this issue as we assess individual FOIA programs (including the six Department of Homeland Security components where reviews are underway or scheduled). He also said that the review team will analyze the use of “still interested” letters by agencies. The team hopes to release its findings by the end of the calendar year.