The newly-issued Chief FOIA Officer Report for the FCC demonstrates how the Commission is applying the President’s and the Attorney General’s guidance that the Freedom of Information Act is to be administered with a presumption of openness. General Counsel Austin C. Schlick, the FCC’s Chief FOIA Officer, led a review of the Commission’s FOIA operations. Key points reported by the Chief FOIA Officer include:
- The huge amount of FCC records available through the Commission’s website has resulted in a decline in the number of FOIA requests.
- The reform of the FCC’s websites, including reboot.fcc.gov and www.fcc.gov/data, will provide even more access to FCC records and data without filing a FOIA request.
- The FCC was among the first agencies to accept and process FOIA requests electronically, and is planning to improve even further this process.
- The FCC is processing FOIA requests more quickly. The median time for processing FOIA requests thus far during FY 2010 has declined to 11 days from 20 days in FY 2009, and the average days to process requests has declined to less than 13 days in FY 2010 thus far from over 32 days in FY 2009.
- There has been a decrease in the number of backlogged initial FOIA requests and FOIA applications for review, and the Commission is striving to eliminate FOIA backlogs.
Much credit for the smooth handling of the Commission’s FOIA program can be given to members of the Office of Managing Director’s Performance Evaluation and Records Management FOIA staff: Shoko Hair (the FCC’s FOIA Public Liaison), Patricia Quartey, and Benish Shah. They ensure the FOIA requests received by the agency are quickly assigned to the proper Bureau or Office, send out acknowledgments of FOIA requests, and remind the FCC staff when deadlines are approaching. They, along with the FCC staff throughout the agency that search for and review the records sought by the public, all while performing their other duties, are the unsung heroes of the FOIA program at the FCC and deserve all praise for their efforts.
The Chief FOIA Officer as always welcomes suggestions to help the FCC’s FOIA program continue to operate successfully and to improve.