President Obama's FOIA Memorandum and Attorney General Holder's FOIA Guidelines

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 19, 2009

DOJ Office of Information Policy FOIA Post – Creating a New Era of Open Government: “On his first full day in office, January 21, 2009, President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The President directed that FOIA “should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”…The President directed the Attorney General to issue FOIA Guidelines for the heads of executive departments and agencies “reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency.” On March 19, 2009, during Sunshine Week, Attorney General Eric Holder issued those Guidelines. The Attorney General highlighted that the FOIA “reflects our nation’s fundamental commitment to open government” and that his Guidelines are “meant to underscore that commitment and to ensure that it is realized in practice.”…The FOIA Guidelines stress that the FOIA is to be administered with the presumption of openness called for by the President. This presumption means that information should not be withheld “simply because [an agency] may do so legally.” Moreover, the Attorney General has directed that whenever full disclosure of a record is not possible, agencies “must consider whether [they] can make partial disclosure.” The Attorney General also “strongly encourage[s] agencies to make discretionary disclosures of information.”

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