Justice Updates FOIA Guidance to Confirm Requesters Still Care

Kevin Grant/Shutterstock.com

Freedom of Information Act requests often take agencies months to fulfill, by which time some requesters from the media or advocacy groups may have moved on to other pursuits.

The Justice Department on July 2 issued new guidance aimed at improving the procedure known as a “still interested” inquiry, through which a FOIA officer can confirm that the requester has not lost interest in obtaining the documents.

The update comes two months after Justice reported that FOIA requests governmentwide have reached a record high.

“While use of ‘still-interested’ inquiries is an understandable way to help ensure that agency resources are appropriately spent processing requests for records where the requester remains interested in receiving the documents,” the guidance states, “it is equally important that requesters are not in any way disadvantaged by their use.”

Early in his first term, President Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder signed memos stressing the need for agencies to work with requesters “in a spirit of cooperation.” In 2010, Justice’s Office of Information Policy published guidance (since updated) on the importance of good communication with requesters.

Last week’s update includes the following tips for agency FOIA employees:

  • Have a reasonable basis to suspect that a requester’s interest has changed;
  • Don’t inquire more than once as to continued interest;
  • Use the requesters preferred method of communication, most likely phone or email;
  • Provide requesters with adequate time to respond;
  • Ensure that requesters are not disadvantaged if their reply is within a reasonable time after a deadline has passed.


(Image via Kevin Grant/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.