FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AG TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1995 (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888 JUSTICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES TO BE GRADED ON HOW WELL THEY DO IN HANDLING INFORMATION REQUESTS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department will begin rating employees on how responsive they are to information requests from the public, under an order issued by Attorney General Janet Reno. The order, the first of its kind, will make it part of the job description of every Justice Department employee who plays a role in handling Freedom of Information Act requests to do so in a "thorough, timely and efficient" manner. The Attorney General said "the cooperation of Justice Department employees is essential to reducing FOIA and Privacy Act backlogs and delays." She said experience has shown that steps taken in the course of the initial receipt, logging, transmittal, search and retrieval, and at the review stage by non-FOIA personnel, contribute significantly to delays in responding to FOIA requesters. In the past, only employees who handle information requests full-time were provided with performance standards and were graded on how well they did. The order the Attorney General signed August 28 directs every component of the Justice Department to add a new mandatory performance standard for all employees who participate in processing information requests, including non-FOIA personnel who receive, transmit and review potentially releasable information. Components include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Marshals Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "I want to emphasize the fact that we all have a role in making FOIA work," said the Attorney General. In October 1993, the President and the Attorney General announced a new openness standard that contained a "presumption of disclosure." It was followed by a review of hundreds of cases and the release of documents previously withheld, a new procedure for making information of significant public interest available on an expedited basis, the opening of public access to Department documents through Internet, the creation of a Justice Performance Review Laboratory to explore the application of technology to the FOIA/PA process, and the establishment of specific FOIA/PA backlog reduction goals for each component, measurable in six- month intervals. ##### 95-467 .