Thank you to FOIA professionals who have already participated in our recently launched Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compliance self-assessment pilot program. Employees of more than half of the 61 agencies we contacted to announce the program have already taken the self-assessment survey. The survey closes on March 11, 2016, meaning agencies still have a little more than a week to participate!
As described in our blog post announcing its launch, the self-assessment online survey is designed to complement our agency assessment program. With 99 Federal departments and agencies processing FOIA requests, we are not able to assess individual programs as quickly as we would like. We asked FOIA professionals at the 61 departments and agencies that process 99.5 percent of all FOIA requests government-wide to participate in the self-assessment program.
Agencies that participate will not receive a score or ranking. The 23-question self-assessment survey is intended to help agency FOIA programs identify areas for improvement and give FOIA leaders information they need to address issues and develop and launch strategies to strengthen and improve their FOIA programs. So far, six of the 15 cabinet-level agencies have participated in the program: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, and the Treasury. A variety of large, medium and small non-cabinet level agencies have also taken the survey.
Later this year, all of the survey participants will receive a copy of the survey noting the answers they provided, and an explanation for why the question was included in the survey. We will also provide agency FOIA leaders with an anonymized summary of the responses from their agency employees.
We plan to discuss the results of the self-assessment program during Sunshine Week 2017 and share any government-wide trends we identified.