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Department of Justice (DOJ) Presents Department of Commerce (DOC) Employees FOIA Awards

Blog by 
Joey Hutcherson, TPM, PMP, CIPP/G
Deputy Director, Office of Privacy and Open Government

Department of Justice (DOJ) kicked off Sunshine Week with a celebration of FOIA Professionals on March 16, 2015. DOJ presented three awards to Department of Commerce (DOC) employees. One DOC FOIA Professional was recognized with a Lifetime Service Award and two DOC FOIA Professionals were recognized with an Outstanding Customer Service Award.  The Lifetime Service Award was presented to Ms. Brenda Dolan.  The Outstanding Customer Service Awards were presented to Ms. Roberta “Bobbie” Parsons and Ms. Harriette Boyd.

Ms. Dolan was recognized for 22 years of distinguished civil service as a FOIA professional in the DOC.  As the Departmental FOIA Officer, Ms. Dolan’s contributions to ensuring efficient FOIA administration are exceptional and remarkable. She ushered the Department’s FOIA processing capabilities into the 21st century by transitioning it from manual paper-based FOIA processing to a FOIAonline. It provides an end-to-end workflow, electronic records, and automated reports. She leads Departmental response to numerous voluminous FOIAs, including some which produced over 30,000 responsive documents. Ms. Dolan has exceptional professional competence and is cornerstone in the Department’s administration of FOIA.

Ms. Roberta Parsons who is responsible for processing DOC Office of Secretary (OS) FOIA requests which are for the immediate OS.  Ms. Parsons’ was recognized for outstanding customer service and her attention to detail which has enhanced the OS response to the requester community through clear explanation of the OS FOIA process and by improving the quality of the responsive documents.  Ms. Parsons’ ability to assist requesters with modification of requests enables DOC personnel to locate responsive documents with a reasonable amount of effort, which often reduces associated fees.  Ms. Parsons has enhanced the OS capabilities in responding to FOIA request significantly improving the requester experience.

Ms. Harriette Boyd provides outstanding customer services in the processing of requests received from the public.  Her effective assigning/tasking and initiation of requests across the Department has reduced the timeframe required to respond effectively to each requestor.  Her tenacity in managing, coordinating, and collaborating internally and externally enables the DOC personnel to locate the documents required to respond appropriately to requests.  Her outstanding ability to narrow the scope of the request has often resulted in the reduction the fees to the requester. Ms. Boyd is the critical element in reducing the response time, and improving overall effectiveness in FOIA processing. 

Department of Justice, Acting Associate Attorney General, Stuart F. Delrey and DOJ Director Office of Information Policy, Melanie Ann Pustay, presented the awards to DOC employees.  On stage representing the Commerce senior management with the awardees were Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, Mr. Fred Stephens, Commerce Chief Privacy Officer and Director of Open Government, Catrina Purvis and Deputy Director Office of Privacy and Open Government, Mr. Joey Hutcherson.

Commerce Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules

On January 18, 2011, in Executive Order 13563, the President directed each agency to review their "existing significant regulations, and consider how best to promote retrospective analysis of rules that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned."

In response to this directive, Commerce created and released a preliminary plan for review of its regulations on May 26, 2011. Commerce welcomed the public's comments and feedback on this preliminary plan through July 25, 2011. Commerce published the final version of its regulatory review plan on August 22, 2011, which incorporated responses to public comments and new information about recent accomplishments. Commerce in promoting transparency continues to publish routine status and updates. Commerce has updated the Retrospective Plan Progress Report Table based on progress review of the plan, new information and new developments. Today March 20, 2015, we are publishing our latest updates in the EO 13563, EO 13610 and the EO 13659 progress report.

Open Government Directive Benchmarks

The White House's Open Government Directive requires Cabinet-level agencies, such as the Department of Commerce, to pass certain milestones as part of our efforts to be more open and transparent. The timeline below details the specific benchmarks we're moving toward, and shows the Department's progress in achieving them.

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45 days—January 22, 2010

  • Completed: Designate a high-level senior official to be accountable for Federal spending information publicly disseminated (Date Completed: 1/22/2010)
  • Completed: Identify and publish online, in an open format, at least three high-value data sets (Date Completed: 1/22/2010)

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60 days—February 6, 2010

  • Completed: Launch the Commerce Open Government Website at, to provide ways for the public to find information and provide feedback on the data sets, our FOIA process, and the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)
  • Completed: Provide contact information for Commerce's designated Open Government representative and create Commerce Open Government email account, (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)
  • Completed: Launch the Citizen Engagement Tool,, to solicit feedback and ideas (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)

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120 days—April 7, 2010

  • Completed: Select Commerce Open Government Team and begin meeting (Date Completed: 1/08/2010)
  • Completed: Release First Draft template for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 3/12/2010)
  • Completed: Solicit public feedback for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 3/20/2010)
  • Completed: Integrate public feedback for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 4/2/2010)
  • Completed: Publish Commerce Open Government Plan on Commerce Open Government website (Date Completed: 4/7/2010)