[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

___________________________________________________________________

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