The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) is pleased to announce the publication of our latest report, “Assessing Freedom of Information Act Compliance through the National Archives and Records Administration’s 2022 Records Management Self-Assessment.” The 2022 Records Management Self-Assessment (RMSA), administered by the Chief Records Officer (CRO) for the U.S. Government, included six questions to measure obstacles, successes, and pace of innovation in FOIA administration. This data complements the observations OGIS makes as the FOIA Ombudsman, working to improve the FOIA process for all.
One of the six FOIA questions in the 2022 RMSA sought to examine the collaboration between Chief FOIA Officers and Agency Records Officers and was repeated from the 2021 RMSA to track trends. One question pertained to the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on FOIA processing; another sought to quantify the frequency with which agencies proactively disclose records; and the other three questions pertained to e-discovery, seeking to assess the current landscape, identify obstacles to implementation, and establish a baseline against which to compare data from future RMSAs.
Key results include:
- Across the government, 79 percent of agencies reported either minimal or no pandemic-related backlog, while 18 percent of agencies reported a moderate or significant pandemic-related backlog.
- Of the respondents, 73 percent reported using e-discovery tools in their FOIA searches, while 19 percent reported not using such tools. The most common use of e-discovery in FOIA searches involves requests for email records—88 percent of those agencies that use e-discovery use it for this reason. The most common reason why e-discovery is not used for FOIA is that it is unavailable at certain agencies—63 percent of FOIA offices that do not use e-discovery cite this as the reason.
- A majority of respondents (57 percent) make proactive disclosures “as needed” rather than routinely. A quarter (25 percent) of respondents reported making proactive disclosures on a routine basis, either annually (13 percent), quarterly (7 percent) or monthly (5 percent).
The National Archives administered the self-assessment between January 9, 2023, to March 10, 2023.
OGIS began collaborating with the CRO’s office on the RMSA in 2016 and partners with the CRO to include FOIA questions in the annual RMSA. This provides OGIS insight to FOIA administration across the federal government and aids with agency compliance. For a complete snapshot of records management across the government, please read the “Federal Agency Records Management 2022 Annual Report.”