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DOJ, OMB Issue Memo Ensuring FOIA Request Portal Interoperability

The Department of Justice and Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum Tuesday calling on federal agencies to ensure their Freedom of Information Act request platforms are interoperable with the centralized National FOIA Portal.

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The directive comes as part of the efforts to comply with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 which called for the creation of a consolidated online portal enabling the public to request any federal agency for records covered by the FOIA. OMB and the DOJ noted that they are responsible to ensure the interoperability between the new system and current FOIA interfaces.

According to the memo, agencies with a large number of requests expect to use an API to connect their automated platforms to the centralized portal. Smaller agencies who use non-automated capabilities to process a lesser volume of requests must create a formal, structured e-mail to designate the e-mail inbox for FOIA requests.

Agencies under the Chief Financial Officers Act must submit a plan to achieve full interoperability to the OMB by May 10, with a hard deadline set for August 2023. Agencies with an automated case management system must submit their plans within two fiscal years, and smaller agencies are required to submit “as soon as technically feasible.”

The memo also stated that agencies must coordinate with the applicable OMB Resource Management Office if additional resources are needed.

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