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3 FOIA Update 1 (1981-1982)

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FOIA Update, Vol. III, No. 1
December 1981

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Information Law and Policy



FOJA Reform Proposed

   Efforts to amend the Freedom of
 Information Act continue on Capitol
   Major highlights of the efforts to
mend the FOIA have been the pres-
entation of the Administration's prop-
osal (see pp. 3-8 of FOIA Update) by
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan
C. Rose of the Justice Department's
Office of Legal Policy, and subsequent
hearings on this proposal (S.
1751/H.R. 4805) and on a similar
proposal, S. 1730, Senator Orrin G.
Hatch's FOIA reform bill. Senator
Hatch is chairman of the Subcommit-
tee on the Constitution of the Judi-
ciary   Committee. The     Hatch
subcommittee has held six hearings on
the need for FOIA reform.
   In presenting the Administration's
 proposal on Oct. 15, Assistant Attor-
 ney General Rose declared that the
 Administration stands fully commit-

ted to carrying out the philosophy and
spirit of the Act.
  Rose told the Hatch subcommittee
that the Administration is concerned
that in some instances the Freedom of
Information Act has been used in ways
that are inconsistent with the original
objectives of the Congress. These
include efforts for disclosures which
have interfered unduly with proper
law  enforcement activities and
national security functions, Rose
said. He also pointed to the considera-
ble expense involved in FOIA process-
ing and the diversion of agency
resources from program responsibili-
  The Office of Legal Policy began its
comprehensive review of the need for
FOIA reform in May of this year by
asking federal agencies to comment on
problems encountered in administer-
                  Cont'd next page

On Agency Practice

     Recordkeeping Procedures Examined

  With few exceptions, records in the
physical possession of a federal agency
are subject to the Freedom of Informa-
tion Act.
  Agencies do not, however, have to
retain indefinitely all records which
are created by or submitted to them.
Under the Federal Records Act, 44
U.S.C. §3102 and §3103, agencies are
required to establish records manage-
ment programs which identify records
that should be preserved and to plan
for the storage and disposal of records
having only temporary significance.
  It is estimated that only about five
percent of government records,
because of their administrative, legal,
research or other value, become part
of the permanent national collection.
For a variety of reasons, many more
records are retained for longer periods
of time than are required.

  In addition, some materials can be
returned to submitters in the private
sector, because of the circumstances
under which they were obtained, once
there is no longer a need for them.
Agencies should be aware that once a
Freedom of Information Act request
has been   received, the requested
records assume a special status and
ordinarily must be retained until the
requester's access rights are
  Federal records, generally speaking,
fall into two categories: administrative
materials which are standard through-
out the entire government and for
which there is a schedule for retention
and disposition furnished by the
National Archives and Records Ser-
vice (NARS), and other materials
which are related to the kinds of pro-
grams conducted by the individual
agencies. Individual schedules for ret-

ention and final disposition of records
are developed by agency personnel in
consultation with the Archivist of the
United States.
         The Justice Effort
  At the Justice Department, there is a
full scale effort underway to help man-
agers and clerical workers focus on
files maintenance and records disposi-
tion practices. Under the guidance of
Bernie Berglind of the Justice Man-
agement Division's Records and Pub-
lications Staff, a course in files
maintenance and records disposition
will be given five times in 1982, begin-
ning with a class Jan. 5-6.
  In the course, Berglind points out
that almost every move made in
government generates paperwork.
Some of this material-for example,
reading files, informational copies and
acknowledgements- need not be kept.
                   Cont'd page 11


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