This week members of the Department of Justice and Federal Government are participating in the 2015 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Mexico City, Mexico. In addition to U.S. Government representatives, the Summit has in attendance members of civil society organizations from around the world. The OGP is an organization founded in 2011 with the goal of working domestically and globally to promote open government and transparency.
In conjunction with the event, the Department of Justice has published its 3rd United States National Action Plan which covers a 2 year period and defines commitments to advance government transparency and accountability as well as to increase participation in technological innovations. The plan intends to initiate or continue 45 transparency initiatives including:
- Modernizing Freedom of Information Implementation. By expanding services offered by the foia.gov website, conducting a proactive disclosure pilot for posting FOIA-released records online, and improving existing agency FOIA sites the DOJ plans to improve the FOIA process. Modernization of FOIA processes through adaptive case management can also help bring the Federal Government up to speed.
- Making it easier for individuals to access their own information. DOJ will assist an interagency team led by OPM, GSA, and the Department of Commerce to develop new authentication tools to protect individual privacy and ensure that personal records only go to the intended recipients. Tools like the FOIAXpress or stand-alone PAL Web Portal can make it much easier for agency FOIA departments to share and receive FOIA-related records and payments with the public. FOIAXpress tools also eliminate room for error when data is sent between agencies with differing FOIA protocols.
- Improving transparency of privacy safeguards. “The Administration will revise and reconstitute guidance to agencies on the collection and protection of individuals’ personally identifiable information.”
- Enhancing transparency of Federal use of investigative technologies. “As law enforcement and homeland security have employed new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems, the Administration has recognized that these must be used in a manner that protects the privacy and civil liberties of the public. Agencies are encouraged to develop and make public a privacy analysis for advanced technologies.”
Modernization of the FOIA process through IT improvements, new technology, and proactive FOIA protocols is the key to maintaining an open and accountable government.