On January 19, 2018 we received a formal response from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to our August 2017 CFPB FOIA Compliance Assessment. Like other agencies that have participated in our agency assessment program, CFPB volunteered to go through the process as part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen its FOIA Program.
Our assessment report documented that the CFPB FOIA Program maintains a relatively small backlog and is currently responding to most requests well within the law’s 20-working-day response time. Our report includes three primary findings:
- CFPB faces management challenges that may impact its ability to to maintain its current responsiveness to FOIA requests during the next five years;
- CFPB’s investments in technologies are improving the FOIA process; and
- CFPB communicates well with requesters.
To address our first finding and to ensure that the CFPB FOIA Program maintains its responsiveness to FOIA requests, we recommended that the FOIA Program continue to work with the agency’s leadership to highlight the importance of the FOIA Program, and that the FOIA Program keep leadership apprised of its resource needs. CFPB responded that it agrees with both of these recommendations, and noted that the FOIA office has been using employees detailed from other parts of the agency to meet increases in workload. Our report also included recommendations to make it easier for members of the public to view records posted to the CFPB FOIA reading room; and to create a formal feedback loop between FOIA processors and CFPB attorneys who process FOIA appeals. CFPB responded that its FOIA Program has implemented both of these recommendations.
We greatly appreciate CFBP’s interest in working with us to further improve its FOIA Program. We look forward to continuing to work with many other agencies to identify strategies for improving compliance with FOIA across the government. If you are interested in having OGIS conduct an assessment of your agency’s FOIA program, please contact us.