19 FOIA Update 1 (1998-1999)

handle is hein.journals/foiaupd19 and id is 1 raw text is: 

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Information and Privacy


Vol. XIX, No. 1
    Winter 1998


FOIA


UPDATE


Air Force Undertakes Affirmative


Electronic Information Disclosure


    As agencies increase their efforts to make information
available to the public affirmatively, they find that they can
serve the interests of the public through the proactive release
of information likely to be of widespread interest and at the
same time ease their own administrative processing burdens
by reducing the need for requests to be made under the
Freedom of Information Act.
    One example of an agency that has an extensive affir-
mative disclosure program is the Department of the Air
Force, which has two organizations at Maxwell Air Force
Base in Montgomery, Alabama dedicated to compiling and
making records publicly available. The Air Force Historical
Research Agency maintains a collection of over seventy mil-
lion pages that document the history of military aviation.
The Secretary of the Air Force Gulf War Declassification
Team initially disclosed records concerning Gulf War ill-
ness, and has, since 1995, focused its efforts on all remain-
ing Gulf War records.
    Over the years these organizations have provided infor-
mation regarding military aviation in general, and the United
States Air Force in particular, to Congress, to the military
services and other agencies, as well as to scholars, writers,
and interested members of the public.
        Air Force Historical Research Agency
    The Air Force Historical Research Agency affirmatively
makes the vast majority of its paper records available to the
public for inspection and copying at Maxwell Air Force

      On Agency Practice

Base, where the collection is maintained. In order to fur-
ther facilitate access, the agency has also copied the collec-
tion onto 16mm microfilm that can be purchased by any
member of the public. The major portion of its collection
consists of histories of the various Air Force organizations
that have existed since the establishment of the Air Force
History Program in 1942. These unit histories are com-
plemented by special collections, including historical mono-
graphs and oral histories, end-of-tour reports, personal pa-
pers of retired general officers and other Air Force person-
nel, reference materials on early military aviation, course
materials of the Air Corps Tactical School of the 1920's and


1930's, and working documents of various joint and com-
bined military commands. The collection also contains doc-
uments from other military organizations, including the
United States Department of the Army, the British Air Min-
istry and the German Air Force.
           Gulf War Declassification Team
    The Secretary of the Air Force Gulf War Declassifica-
tion Team systematically reviews Gulf War records for pub-
lic disclosure. Using the FOIA's exemptions as its guide,
the Team processes the records prior to making them pub-
licly available, excising information where appropriate to
protect, for example, personal privacy or classified data.
The Team then opens the material to the public without
waiting for specific FOIA requests.
    As part of its efforts to broadly disseminate information
of interest to the public, the Gulf War Team has made infor-
mation available in two electronic formats--text and image
files. The Gulf War Collection primarily contains unit his-
tories, special studies, and message traffic, as well as obser-
vations, after-action reports, and other data from Operations
Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It is the largest single
collection of electronic records on aerial combat that has
ever been compiled--over one million pages have been
scanned into electronic images. The collection includes raw
electronic data compiled by the agency such as electronic re-
ports and messages from Gulf War operations, as well as
electronic imagery from slides, videos, and photographs.
(The Team's Gulf War illness-related records can be found
at www.gulflink.osd.mil.)
    The disclosure system established by the Gulf War De-
classification Team is an excellent example of how an agen-
cy can make use of electronic information technology to fa-
cilitate ready access to information of interest to the public.
Through their affirmative disclosure practices, the Gulf War
Declassification Team and the Air Force Historical Research
Agency efficiently meet the public demand for information
without unnecessarily encumbering their FOIA processes.

               New Feature
This issue of FOIA Update contains a new regular fea-
ture, Web Site Watch, that examines the development
of agency World Wide Web sites for FOTA purposes.


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