UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
January 29, 2008
 
In Reply Refer To:
1278 (560) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 02/05/2008
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-059
Expires: 09/30/2009
 
To:                   All Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Employees
 
From:               Director

Subject:            Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Policy to Improve Customer Service per Executive Order 13392: "Improving Agency Disclosure of Information."

Program Area: All program areas, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) describes requirements for all employees to improve customer service and response time regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In order to process public requests for information, BLM FOIA coordinators will contact program managers for assistance. Program offices should respond to these inquiries from the requesting BLM FOIA office within 5 days from the initial notification, in order to begin processing the request in a timely manner. 
 
In accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 13392, it is the policy of BLM to make records available to the public to the greatest extent possible, in keeping with the spirit of the FOIA, while at the same time protecting sensitive information.  The President, through E.O. 13392, instructed all agencies to improve their FOIA operations with both efficiency and timeliness in mind.  Therefore, the BLM is continuing to advance policies with the spirit and intent of the order.   
 
Policy/Action: All employees (including contractors) of the BLM are required to assist in facilitating and expediting the production and dissemination of documents requested under the FOIA. While the specific FOIA request may be filed with the State, Center, or Field Office FOIA Coordinator, all employees of the BLM are potentially called upon to produce the necessary information and documents to support this request. Responding to FOIA requests is a necessarily high priority and should be executed the utmost courtesy. In many cases, employees may need to respond directly to the public to a follow-up request or telephone requests for information and, if called upon, should be prompt and helpful in their reply. All requests must be responded to by FOIA Coordinators within the statutory time limit of 20 workdays. Since oversight agencies will monitor BLM to ensure compliance with E. O. 13392, the BLM will evaluate employee performance based on timeliness and the quality of customer service in responding to FOIA requests. A copy of E. O. 13392 and the Office of Management and Budget’s implementing directive are available on www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda/fy2006/m06-04.pdf 
 
Timeframe: Effective immediately.

Background:
 In December 2005, the President issued E.O. 13392 to improve processing of requests under the FOIA. Since responding to FOIA requests requires participation by all employees in furnishing documents, this directive reasserts BLM policy on responding to FOIAs promptly and courteously. 
 
Budget Impact: None. Responding to FOIA request is considered part of program duties.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: BLM Manual 1278 – External Access to BLM Information. 
 
Coordination: This IM has been coordinated with all of the Directorates.
 
Contact: Keel Ross, Division Chief, IRM Governance (WO-560) at (202) 557-3561.
 
Signed by:                                                       
Authenticated by
Theresa Coleman                                            
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Deputy Assistant Director                    
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Information Resources Management