Executive Order 13392 (Dec. 27, 2005): Improving Agency Disclosure of Information

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 242 (Monday, December 19, 2005)]
[Presidential Documents]
[Pages 75373-75377]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-24255]

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Part V

The President

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Executive Order 13392--Improving Agency Disclosure of Information

Presidential Documents

Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 242 / Monday, December 19, 2005 /
Presidential Documents

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Title 3--
The President

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Executive Order 13392 of December 14, 2005


Improving Agency Disclosure of Information

By the authority vested in me as President by the
Constitution and the laws of the United States of
America, and to ensure appropriate agency disclosure of
information, and consistent with the goals of section
552 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby
ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy.

(a) The effective functioning of our constitutional
democracy depends upon the participation in public life
of a citizenry that is well informed. For nearly four
decades, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has
provided an important means through which the public
can obtain information regarding the activities of
Federal agencies. Under the FOIA, the public can obtain
records from any Federal agency, subject to the
exemptions enacted by the Congress to protect
information that must be held in confidence for the
Government to function effectively or for other
purposes.
(b) FOIA requesters are seeking a service from the
Federal Government and should be treated as such.
Accordingly, in responding to a FOIA request, agencies
shall respond courteously and appropriately. Moreover,
agencies shall provide FOIA requesters, and the public
in general, with citizen-centered ways to learn about
the FOIA process, about agency records that are
publicly available (e.g., on the agency's website), and
about the status of a person's FOIA request and
appropriate information about the agency's response.
(c) Agency FOIA operations shall be both results-
oriented and produce results. Accordingly, agencies
shall process requests under the FOIA in an efficient
and appropriate manner and achieve tangible, measurable
improvements in FOIA processing. When an agency's FOIA
program does not produce such results, it should be
reformed, consistent with available resources
appropriated by the Congress and applicable law, to
increase efficiency and better reflect the policy goals
and objectives of this order.
(d) A citizen-centered and results-oriented
approach will improve service and performance, thereby
strengthening compliance with the FOIA, and will help
avoid disputes and related litigation.

Sec. 2. Agency Chief FOIA Officers.

(a) Designation. The head of each agency shall
designate within 30 days of the date of this order a
senior official of such agency (at the Assistant
Secretary or equivalent level), to serve as the Chief
FOIA Officer of that agency. The head of the agency
shall promptly notify the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB Director) and the Attorney
General of such designation and of any changes
thereafter in such designation.
(b) General Duties. The Chief FOIA Officer of each
agency shall, subject to the authority of the head of
the agency:

(i) have agency-wide responsibility for efficient and appropriate
compliance with the FOIA;

(ii) monitor FOIA implementation throughout the agency, including through
the use of meetings with the public to the extent deemed appropriate by the
agency's Chief FOIA Officer, and keep the head of the agency, the chief
legal officer of the agency, and the Attorney General appropriately
informed of the agency's performance in implementing the FOIA, including
the extent to which the agency meets the milestones

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in the agency's plan under section 3(b) of this order and training and
reporting standards established consistent with applicable law and this
order;

(iii) recommend to the head of the agency such adjustments to agency
practices, policies, personnel, and funding as may be necessary to carry
out the policy set forth in section 1 of this order;

(iv) review and report, through the head of the agency, at such times and
in such formats as the Attorney General may direct, on the agency's
performance in implementing the FOIA; and

(v) facilitate public understanding of the purposes of the FOIA's statutory
exemptions by including concise descriptions of the exemptions in both the
agency's FOIA handbook issued under section 552(g) of title 5, United
States Code, and the agency's annual FOIA report, and by providing an
overview, where appropriate, of certain general categories of agency
records to which those exemptions apply.

(c) FOIA Requester Service Center and FOIA Public
Liaisons. In order to ensure appropriate communication
with FOIA requesters:

(i) Each agency shall establish one or more FOIA Requester Service Centers
(Center), as appropriate, which shall serve as the first place that a FOIA
requester can contact to seek information concerning the status of the
person's FOIA request and appropriate information about the agency's FOIA
response. The Center shall include appropriate staff to receive and respond
to inquiries from FOIA requesters;

(ii) The agency Chief FOIA Officer shall designate one or more agency
officials, as appropriate, as FOIA Public Liaisons, who may serve in the
Center or who may serve in a separate office. FOIA Public Liaisons shall
serve as supervisory officials to whom a FOIA requester can raise concerns
about the service the FOIA requester has received from the Center,
following an initial response from the Center staff. FOIA Public Liaisons
shall seek to ensure a service-oriented response to FOIA requests and FOIA-
related inquiries. For example, the FOIA Public Liaison shall assist, as
appropriate, in reducing delays, increasing transparency and understanding
of the status of requests, and resolving disputes. FOIA Public Liaisons
shall report to the agency Chief FOIA Officer on their activities and shall
perform their duties consistent with applicable law and agency regulations;

(iii) In addition to the services to FOIA requesters provided by the Center
and FOIA Public Liaisons, the agency Chief FOIA Officer shall also consider
what other FOIA-related assistance to the public should appropriately be
provided by the agency;

(iv) In establishing the Centers and designating FOIA Public Liaisons, the
agency shall use, as appropriate, existing agency staff and resources. A
Center shall have appropriate staff to receive and respond to inquiries
from FOIA requesters;

(v) As determined by the agency Chief FOIA Officer, in consultation with
the FOIA Public Liaisons, each agency shall post appropriate information
about its Center or Centers on the agency's website, including contact
information for its FOIA Public Liaisons. In the case of an agency without
a website, the agency shall publish the information on the Firstgov.gov
website or, in the case of any agency with neither a website nor the
capability to post on the Firstgov.gov website, in the Federal Register;
and

(vi) The agency Chief FOIA Officer shall ensure that the agency has in
place a method (or methods), including through the use of the Center, to
receive and respond promptly and appropriately to inquiries from FOIA
requesters about the status of their requests. The Chief FOIA Officer shall

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also consider, in consultation with the FOIA Public Liaisons, as
appropriate, whether the agency's implementation of other means (such as
tracking numbers for requests, or an agency telephone or Internet hotline)
would be appropriate for responding to status inquiries.

Sec. 3. Review, Plan, and Report.

(a) Review. Each agency's Chief FOIA Officer shall
conduct a review of the agency's FOIA operations to
determine whether agency practices are consistent with
the policies set forth in section 1 of this order. In
conducting this review, the Chief FOIA Officer shall:

(i) evaluate, with reference to numerical and statistical benchmarks where
appropriate, the agency's administration of the FOIA, including the
agency's expenditure of resources on FOIA compliance and the extent to
which, if any, requests for records have not been responded to within the
statutory time limit (backlog);

(ii) review the processes and practices by which the agency assists and
informs the public regarding the FOIA process;

(iii) examine the agency's:

(A) use of information technology in responding to FOIA requests, including
without limitation the tracking of FOIA requests and communication with
requesters;

(B) practices with respect to requests for expedited processing; and

(C) implementation of multi-track processing if used by such agency;

(iv) review the agency's policies and practices relating to the
availability of public information through websites and other means,
including the use of websites to make available the records described in
section 552(a)(2) of title 5, United States Code; and

(v) identify ways to eliminate or reduce its FOIA backlog, consistent with
available resources and taking into consideration the volume and complexity
of the FOIA requests pending with the agency.

(b) Plan.

(i) Each agency's Chief FOIA Officer shall develop, in consultation as
appropriate with the staff of the agency (including the FOIA Public
Liaisons), the Attorney General, and the OMB Director, an agency-specific
plan to ensure that the agency's administration of the FOIA is in
accordance with applicable law and the policies set forth in section 1 of
this order. The plan, which shall be submitted to the head of the agency
for approval, shall address the agency's implementation of the FOIA during
fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

(ii) The plan shall include specific activities that the agency will
implement to eliminate or reduce the agency's FOIA backlog, including (as
applicable) changes that will make the processing of FOIA requests more
streamlined and effective, as well as increased reliance on the
dissemination of records that can be made available to the public through a
website or other means that do not require the public to make a request for
the records under the FOIA.

(iii) The plan shall also include activities to increase public awareness
of FOIA processing, including as appropriate, expanded use of the agency's
Center and its FOIA Public Liaisons.

(iv) The plan shall also include, taking appropriate account of the
resources available to the agency and the mission of the agency, concrete
milestones, with specific timetables and outcomes to be achieved, by which
the head of the agency, after consultation with the OMB Director, shall
measure and evaluate the agency's success in the implementation of the
plan.

(c) Agency Reports to the Attorney General and OMB
Director.

(i) The head of each agency shall submit a report, no later than 6 months
from the date of this order, to the Attorney General and the OMB Director
that summarizes the results of the review under section 3(a) of this order
and encloses a copy of the agency's plan under section 3(b) of this order.

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The agency shall publish a copy of the agency's report on the agency's
website or, in the case of an agency without a website, on the Firstgov.gov
website, or, in the case of any agency with neither a website nor the
capability to publish on the Firstgov.gov website, in the Federal Register.

(ii) The head of each agency shall include in the agency's annual FOIA
reports for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 a report on the agency's development
and implementation of its plan under section 3(b) of this order and on the
agency's performance in meeting the milestones set forth in that plan,
consistent with any related guidelines the Attorney General may issue under
section 552(e) of title 5, United States Code.

(iii) If the agency does not meet a milestone in its plan, the head of the
agency shall:

(A) identify this deficiency in the annual FOIA report to the Attorney
General;

(B) explain in the annual report the reasons for the agency's failure to
meet the milestone;

(C) outline in the annual report the steps that the agency has already
taken, and will be taking, to address the deficiency; and

(D) report this deficiency to the President's Management Council.

Sec. 4. Attorney General.

(a) Report. The Attorney General, using the reports
submitted by the agencies under subsection 3(c)(i) of
this order and the information submitted by agencies in
their annual FOIA reports for fiscal year 2005, shall
submit to the President, no later than 10 months from
the date of this order, a report on agency FOIA
implementation. The Attorney General shall consult the
OMB Director in the preparation of the report and shall
include in the report appropriate recommendations on
administrative or other agency actions for continued
agency dissemination and release of public information.
The Attorney General shall thereafter submit two
further annual reports, by June 1, 2007, and June 1,
2008, that provide the President with an update on the
agencies' implementation of the FOIA and of their plans
under section 3(b) of this order.
(b) Guidance. The Attorney General shall issue such
instructions and guidance to the heads of departments
and agencies as may be appropriate to implement
sections 3(b) and 3(c) of this order.

Sec. 5. OMB Director. The OMB Director may issue such
instructions to the heads of agencies as are necessary
to implement this order, other than sections 3(b) and
3(c) of this order.

Sec. 6. Definitions. As used in this order:

(a) the term ``agency'' has the same meaning as the
term ``agency'' under section 552(f)(1) of title 5,
United States Code; and
(b) the term ``record'' has the same meaning as the
term ``record'' under section 552(f)(2) of title 5,
United States Code.

Sec. 7. General Provisions.

(a) The agency reviews under section 3(a) of this
order and agency plans under section 3(b) of this order
shall be conducted and developed in accordance with
applicable law and applicable guidance issued by the
President, the Attorney General, and the OMB Director,
including the laws and guidance regarding information
technology and the dissemination of information.
(b) This order:

(i) shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and
subject to the availability of appropriations;

(ii) shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of
the OMB Director relating to budget, legislative, or administrative
proposals; and

(iii) is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive
branch and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit,

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substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party
against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or
entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

(Presidential Sig.)B

THE WHITE HOUSE,

December 14, 2005.

[FR Doc. 05-24255
Filed 12-15-05; 8:45 am]
Billing code 3195-01-P