Thursday, April 09, 2015

DOJ Announces New FOIA Regulations: What Difference Does That Make!?

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA -  To much fanfare, thevDepartment of Justice today announced the publication of its new, updated FOIA regulations which will become effective May 4, 2015.  The larger question, as Secretary Hilary Clinton might say, what difference does that make?

 Eric Holder's DOJ acknowledges that FOIA  regulations serve as a resource for both agency personnel and the public.  They provide procedural information for requesters, such as details about where and how to make a request.  They also set forth requirements for agencies, such as details about information that should be included in agency correspondence with requesters. 

In response, the newly announced regulations  allegedly "streamlined the language contained in them to make the regulations more user-friendly.  The updated regulations also reflect a range of practices embraced by the Department in support of the President's and Attorney General Holder's 2009 FOIA directives, particularly the Department’s policy encouraging discretionary releases." - do you suppose the new regulations would have prevented Eric shoulder from criminalizing journalism when he went after Janes Rosen?  Does it mean that with the new and improved regulations an Eric Holder would be more responsive to FOIA requests, such as the ones dealing with Fast and Furious, the IRS or the EPA?  Of course not.  It's not about regulations, stupid!

The new FOIA regulations include:
  • A focus on the role of the Department's FOIA Contacts and FOIA Public Liaisons to assist requesters both before and after a request is made
  • Proactive notification to requesters of which processing track their request falls in and an opportunity for requesters to narrow their requests to fit a faster track
  • Procedures on referrals, consultations and coordinations, which among other things require agencies to provide requesters the name and FOIA contact information of any agency where records are referred
  • An emphasis on good communication practices, which include the Department's commitment to communicate with requesters electronically whenever feasible, as well as other practices that ensure communications are made in the spirit of cooperation called for by the President and Attorney General Holder.

In other words, what difference does it make?

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