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114th Congress   }                                     {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                     {       114-148

======================================================================



 
                    DHS FOIA EFFICIENCY ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

 June 11, 2015.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. McCaul, from the Committee on Homeland Security, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1615]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Homeland Security, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 1615) to direct the Chief FOIA Officer of the 
Department of Homeland Security to make certain improvements in 
the implementation of section 552 of title 5, United States 
Code (commonly known as the Freedom of Information Act), and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill 
as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     3
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
Duplicative Federal Programs.....................................     6
Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
  Benefits.......................................................     6
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     6
Preemption Clarification.........................................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     6
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     6
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     8

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015''.

SEC. 2. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 
                    IMPLEMENTATION.

  (a) Deadline for Updating Regulations.--Not later than 90 days after 
the date of the enactment of this Act, the Chief FOIA Officer of the 
Department of Homeland Security, as appointed pursuant to section 
552(j) of title 5, United States Code, shall finalize and issue an 
updated regulation implementing section 552 of title 5, United States 
Code (commonly known as the Freedom of Information Act), which shall 
include--
          (1) public guidance on procedures to be followed when making 
        requests under paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of section 552(a) of 
        title 5, United States Code;
          (2) updated guidance to the components of the Department 
        responsible for processing such requests, which may include 
        information on how to adopt automated processing of requests 
        made under paragraphs (1), (2), or (3) of section 552(a) of 
        title 5, United States Code;
          (3) detailed information on fees and costs associated with 
        such requests; and
          (4) detailed information on the appeals process for such 
        requests.
  (b) Identification of Costs.--
          (1) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the 
        enactment of this Act, the Chief FOIA Officer, in coordination 
        with the Chief Financial Officer of the Department and the 
        heads of each of the relevant components of the Department, 
        shall identify the total annual cost to the Department of 
        implementing section 552 of title 5, United States Code.
          (2) Guidance.--The Chief FOIA Officer shall develop guidance 
        on reporting standards related to the direct and indirect costs 
        to the Department associated with the processing of requests 
        made under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of 
        title 5, United States Code.
  (c) Cost Savings.--The Chief FOIA Officer, in collaboration with the 
heads of each of the relevant components of the Department, shall--
          (1) identify unnecessary and duplicative actions taken by the 
        Department in the course of processing requests made under 
        paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, 
        United States Code, by not later than 120 days after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act; and
          (2) eliminate unnecessary and duplicative actions taken by 
        the Department in the course of processing requests made under 
        paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, 
        United States Code, by not later than 12 months after the 
        identification of such action under paragraph (1).
  (d) FOIA Tracking Systems.--Not later than 90 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, the Chief FOIA Officer shall develop a plan 
to automate the processing of requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), 
and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, United States Code to the 
Department. Such plan shall take into account the specific needs of 
each of the components of the Department responsible for processing 
such requests and address required and recommended technology 
capabilities and elements. Such plan shall include an assessment of the 
costs and benefits associated with establishing and using electronic 
processing systems to process requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), 
and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, United States Code.
  (e) FOIA Backlog.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Chief Privacy Officer of the Department, in 
consultation with the Chief FOIA Officer, shall update and issue 
guidance to the heads of each of the relevant components of the 
Department regarding the goal of reducing the backlog in processing 
requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of 
title 5, United States Code, by 50 percent between fiscal year 2015 and 
fiscal year 2018.
  (f) Report.--
          (1) Semiannual privacy report.--The Chief FOIA Officer shall 
        include in each semiannual privacy report submitted under 
        section 1062(f) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism 
        Prevention Act of 2004 (42 U.S.C. 2000ee-1(f)) each of the 
        following:
                  (A) The total costs to the Department of meeting the 
                requirements of section 552 of title 5, United States 
                Code, for the period covered by the report.
                  (B) An assessment of progress made toward meeting the 
                backlog goals pursuant to subsection (e) during the 
                period covered by the report and the periods covered by 
                the two preceding reports.
                  (C) An assessment of whether the Department has 
                adequate staffing and other resources to address the 
                backlog goals pursuant to subsection (e) for processing 
                requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of 
                section 552(a) of title 5, United States Code.
                  (D) An assessment of the progress made towards 
                automating the processing of requests made under 
                paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of title 
                5, United States Code, during the period covered by the 
                report.
          (2) Fiscal year 2016 requirements.--The Chief FOIA Officer 
        shall include in the second semiannual privacy report for 
        fiscal year 2016 each of the following:
                  (A) A description of any cost savings identified 
                under subsection (d).
                  (B) The plan developed under subsection (d).
  (g) Duplicative Action Defined.--In this section, the term 
``duplicative actions'' means actions carried out by two or more 
components or programs that are engaged in the same activities or 
provide the same services related to the processing of FOIA requests to 
the same beneficiaries.

SEC. 3. PROGRESS ON AUTOMATION.

  Upon completion of the plan to automate the processing of requests 
made under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, 
United States Code, the Chief FOIA Officer shall provide the plan to 
the heads of the components of the Department and seek written feedback 
from each head of a component agency regarding the extent to which that 
component will adopt the plan, the associated costs, and the projected 
timelines.

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The purpose of H.R. 1615 is to direct the Chief FOIA 
Officer of the Department of Homeland Security to make certain 
improvements in the implementation of section 552 of title 5, 
United States Code (commonly known as the Freedom of 
Information Act), and for other purposes.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) receives and 
processes the most Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests 
out of any federal department. As reported by the Government 
Accountability Office in November 2014, DHS also faces the 
largest backlog of unprocessed FOIA requests of any federal 
agency--roughly half of the total number for all federal 
agencies (GAO-15-82). This legislation requires a more 
streamlined approach to the processing of FOIA requests, which 
should aid in backlog reduction. This legislation also provides 
greater transparency by requiring clearer accounting of costs 
associated with the FOIA process.

                                HEARINGS

    No hearings were held on H.R. 1615.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    The Committee met on May 20, 2015, to consider H.R. 1615, 
and ordered the measure to be reported to the House with a 
favorable recommendation, amended, by voice vote. The Committee 
took the following actions:
    The following amendments were offered:
     An Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute offered by Mr. 
Carter of Georgia (#1); was AGREED TO, as amended, by voice 
vote.
    An en bloc amendment to the Amendment in the Nature of a 
Substitute to H.R. 1615 offered by Ms. Jackson Lee (#1A); was 
AGREED TO by voice vote.

     Consisting of the following amendments:
     Page 2, line 3, before the semicolon insert the following: ``, 
which may include information on how to adopt automated processing of 
requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), or (3) of section 552(a) of 
title 5, United States Code''.
     Page 5, after line 8, insert the following: (D) An assessment of 
the progress made towards automating the processing of requests made 
under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of title 5, United 
States Code, during the period covered by the report.
     Page 5, after line 22, a new section entitled ``Sec. 3. Progress 
on Automation.''

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency met 
on May 13, 2015, to consider H.R. 1615, and ordered the measure 
to be reported to the Full Committee with a favorable 
recommendation, amended, by voice vote. The Committee took the 
following actions:
    The following amendment was offered:

     An en bloc amendment offered by Mrs. Watson Coleman (#1); 
was AGREED TO by voice vote.

     Consisting of the following amendments:
     Page 2, line 11, strike subsection (c) and insert a new subsection 
entitled ``(c) Cost Savings.''.
     Page 5, after line 8, insert the following: (C) An assessment of 
whether the Department has adequate staffing and other resources to 
address the backlog goals pursuant to subsection (e) for processing 
requests made under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 552(a) of 
title 5, United States Code.
     Page 5, after line 15, insert a new subsection entitled ``(g) 
Duplicative Action Defined.''

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the recorded 
votes on the motion to report legislation and amendments 
thereto.
    No recorded votes were requested during consideration of 
H.R. 1615.

                      COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee has held oversight 
hearings and made findings that are reflected in this report.

   NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee finds that H.R. 
1615, the DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015, would result in no 
new or increased budget authority, entitlement authority, or 
tax expenditures or revenues.

                  CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATE

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate prepared 
by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to 
section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                                Congressional Budget Office
                                      Washington, DC, June 2, 2015.
Hon. Michael McCaul,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1615, the DHS FOIA 
Efficiency Act of 2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1615--DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015

    H.R. 1615 would require the Department of Homeland Security 
(DHS) to update regulations that implement the Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA), identify the costs of complying with 
that act, streamline the process for implementing certain FOIA 
provisions, and attempt to reduce the backlog in processing 
FOIA requests. Because there are ongoing efforts within DHS to 
carry out the actions required by the bill, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 1615 would not significantly affect DHS 
spending. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct 
spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do 
not apply.
    H.R. 1615 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Mark Grabowicz. 
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Assistant Director 
for Budget Analysis.

         STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    H.R. 1615 requires the Chief FOIA Officer of the Department 
of Homeland Security to do the following:
    1.   Not later than 90 days after the enactment of this 
        Act, finalize and issue updated FOIA regulations;
    2.   Not later than 90 days after the enactment of this 
        Act, identify the total annual cost to the Department 
        of Homeland Security for implementing FOIA;
    3.   Develop guidance on reporting standards related to 
        direct and indirect costs associated with the 
        processing of FOIA requests;
    4.   Identify and eliminate unnecessary and duplicative 
        actions taken by the Department in the course of 
        processing FOIA requests;
    5.   Not later than 90 days after the enactment of this 
        Act, develop a plan to automate the processing of FOIA 
        requests;
    6.   Include in the Semiannual Privacy Report information 
        regarding costs associated with processing FOIA 
        requests, an assessment of the progress made toward 
        meeting the backlog goal, an assessment of whether the 
        Department has adequate staffing and resources to 
        address the backlog goal, and an assessment of the 
        progress made towards automating the processing of FOIA 
        requests;
    7.   Include in the second Semiannual Privacy Report for 
        fiscal year 2016 the developed plan and any identified 
        cost savings associated with automating the processing 
        of FOIA requests.

                      DUPLICATIVE FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c) of rule XIII, the Committee finds 
that H.R. 1615 does not contain any provision that establishes 
or reauthorizes a program known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program.

   CONGRESSIONAL EARMARKS, LIMITED TAX BENEFITS, AND LIMITED TARIFF 
                                BENEFITS

    In compliance with rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, this bill, as reported, contains no 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of the rule 
XXI.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act.

                        PREEMPTION CLARIFICATION

    In compliance with section 423 of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, requiring the report of any Committee on a bill or 
joint resolution to include a statement on the extent to which 
the bill or joint resolution is intended to preempt State, 
local, or Tribal law, the Committee finds that H.R. 1615 does 
not preempt any State, local, or Tribal law.

                  DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTED RULE MAKINGS

    The Committee estimates that H.R. 1615 would require no 
directed rule makings.

                      ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 
legislation.

                  APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1.   Short title

    This section provides that bill may be cited as the ``DHS 
FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015''.

Section 2.   Department of Homeland Security Freedom of Information Act 
        Implementation

Section 2(a).  Deadline for updating regulations

    Section 2(a) requires the Chief FOIA Officer of the 
Department of Homeland Security, to finalize and issue an 
updated regulation implementing the Freedom of Information Act, 
to include:
    1.   Public guidance on procedures to be followed when 
making FOIA requests;
    2.   Updated guidance to the DHS components responsible for 
processing such requests;
    3.   Detailed information on fees and costs associated with 
such requests; and
    4.   Detailed information on the appeals process for FOIA 
requests.

Section 2(b).  Identification of costs

    Section 2(b) requires the Chief FOIA Officer, in 
coordination with the Chief Financial Officer of the Department 
of Homeland Security, and the heads of each of the relevant 
components, to identify the total annual costs associated with 
the processing of FOIA requests. Additionally, the Chief FOIA 
Officer shall develop guidance on reporting standards related 
to the direct and indirect costs to DHS associated with the 
processing of FOIA requests.

Section 2(c).  Cost savings

    Section 2(c) requires the Chief FOIA Officer, in 
collaboration with the heads of relevant components to identify 
and eliminate unnecessary and duplicative actions taken during 
the processing of FOIA requests.

Section 2(d).  FOIA tracking systems

    Section 2(d) requires the Chief FOIA Officer to develop a 
plan to automate the processing of FOIA requests while 
addressing required and recommended technology capabilities and 
elements. An assessment of the costs and benefits associated 
with electronic processing shall be included.

Section 2(e).  FOIA backlog

    Section 2(e) requires the Chief Privacy Officer, in 
consultation with the Chief FOIA Officer, to update and issue 
guidance to the relevant components regarding FOIA backlog 
reduction efforts.

Section 2(f).  Reporting requirements

    Section 2(f) requires the Chief FOIA Officer to include in 
the Department's already mandated Semiannual Privacy Report:
    1.   The total cost to the Department of processing FOIA 
requests;
    2.   An assessment of backlog progress; and
    3.   An assessment of whether the Department has adequate 
staffing and resources to address the backlog goals
    4.   An assessment of the progress made towards automating 
the processing of FOIA requests
    Section 2(f) also requires the Chief FOIA Officer to 
include in the already mandated second Semiannual Privacy 
Report for Fiscal Year 2016:
    1.   Any FOIA processing cost savings identified by the 
Department; and
    2.   The Department's plan to automate FOIA tracking.

Section 2(g).  Definition

    Section 2(g) defines ``duplicative action.''

Section 3.   Progress on automation

    Section 3 requires the Chief FOIA Officer to disseminate 
the Department's plan to automate FOIA processing to the heads 
of relevant components and to seek written feedback from each 
head of component regarding the extent to which that component 
intends to adopt this processing automation plan.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    H.R. 1615, as reported, makes no changes to existing law.

                                  [all]