U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
 
July 14, 2014
 
In Reply Refer To:
1278 (860) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 07/14/2014
Instruction Memorandum No. 2014-113
Expires:  09/30/2015 
 
To:                    Washington Office and Field Office Officials                 
 
From:                Assistant Director, Business, Fiscal and Information Resources Management
 
Subject:            National Streamlined Management of Freedom of Information Act Requests
 
Program Area: Freedom of Information Act Management
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) initiates the streamlined management of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) across the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 
 
Policy/Action: All BLM FOIA requests will be submitted through the Washington Office (WO) FOIA central intake mailbox. This approach establishes a consistent, bureau-wide, initial assessment of FOIA requests to enhance coordination, tracking, and accountability.  The WO will coordinate FOIA requests and responses with the appropriate BLM offices, issue unique tracking numbers, and provide overall guidance and direction. The streamlined coordination will enhance collaboration and management of multi-state FOIA requests and collection of responsive documents; reduce the overall number of FOIA cases with separate tracking numbers; condense the FOIA backlog; and improve the quality and consistency of FOIA responses.
 
Timeframe: To ensure ongoing collaboration with the state FOIA coordinators through the transition period, the initial commencement will occur during the first quarter of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015.
 
Budget Impact: It is estimated that the streamlined management of FOIA will lead to efficiencies that result in cost savings and reduced litigation risks. 
 
Background:  With near 1,000 FOIA requests submitted annually, the BLM usually carries one of the highest FOIA backlogs in the Department of the Interior (DOI).  States and centers independently intake FOIA requests, negotiate the scope, intent, and fees directly with the requestors.  The BLM recognizes that this approach to the management of FOIA requests is resulting in inconsistencies in the adjudication of fee waivers, requester category assignments, processing track placement, application of redaction, and the use of exemptions. It also artificially inflates the BLM FOIA backlog and fees paid to the DOI when individual offices assign their own unique BLM FOIA control numbers on cases that are distributed to multiple State Offices.  This decentralized intake process leads to the duplication of services and exposes the BLM to avoidable and potentially costly litigation. 
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  BLM Manual - 1278, Freedom of Information Act.
 
Coordination:  This IM was coordinated with the Business Management Council (BMC) and, State and Center FOIA Coordinators.
 
Contact:  Please contact the Bureau FOIA Officer, Ryan Witt, at rwitt@blm.gov or (202) 912-7562.
 
 
Signed by:
Janine Velasco
Assistant Director
Business, Fiscal and Information Resources   
 Management
Authenticated by:
Robert M. Williams
Division of IRM Governance, WO-860

 
Last updated: 07-18-2014