DoD revises FOIA directive to include 'presumption of disclosure'

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A July 28 revision by the Defense Department to its Freedom of Information Act directive incorporates the "presumption in favor of disclosure" first called for by President Barack Obama on his first full day as president.

DoD Directive 5400.07  now states that DoD policy is to "promote transparency and accountability by adopting a presumption in favor of disclosure in all decisions involving the FOIA; responding promptly to requests in a spirit of cooperation; and by taking affirmative steps to make the maximum amount of information available to the public" consistent with protections for national security and other sensitive information.

The new directive also extends its applicability to the Joint Staff and says that the department will work with the Office of Government Information Services within the National Archives and Records Administration to resolve disputes between requesters and the DoD.

The extent to which Obama administration policies have fulfilled their intended goal of fostering openness and transparency across the federal government has been the subject of some controversy. A March 14 report (.pdf) from the National Security Archive at George Washington University found that only about half of federal agencies had taken steps required by a March 16, 2010 White House FOIA memo (.pdf) calling on agencies to update their FOIA guidance and training materials in accordance with Obama's first Jan. 21, 2009 memo.

The Defense Department is also home to the second-oldest federal FOIA request, the report added, having a request still open that was filed on March 16, 1993. The oldest outstanding FOIA request was filed at the National Archives and Records Administration on July 10, 1992, according to the report.

For more: 
- download the revised DoD Directive 5400.07 (.pdf)

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