Assembly Adopts Four Recommendations at 60th Plenary Session

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11, 2014   
Megan Kindelan
Communications Director
The 60th Plenary Session of the Administrative Conference of the United States was held June 5 and 6, 2014. During the session, Conference Chairman Paul R. Verkuil and the Conference Assembly passed four recommendations, and the Conference’s newest council member, Dr. Steven Croley, was sworn in by Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  The third annual Walter Gellhorn Innovation Award was also presented to the U.S. General Services Administration for its DigitalGov User Experience Program.
1. Recommendation 2014-1: Resolving FOIA Disputes Through Targeted ADR Strategies: This recommendation addresses more effective use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches to help resolve disputes arising under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The OPEN Government Act of 2007 created the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a part of the National Archives and Records Administration, to assist in the resolution of FOIA disputes through use of mediation and other ADR techniques.  The recommendation suggests ways that OGIS can maximize the effectiveness of its resources for this purpose.  The recommendation also suggests steps agencies can take to prevent or resolve FOIA disputes, including cooperating with OGIS and making FOIA staff and requesters aware of OGIS services.
2. Recommendation 2014-2: Government in the Sunshine Act: This recommendation highlights best practices designed to enhance transparency of decisionmaking at multi-member boards and commissions subject to the Government in the Sunshine Act.  The recommendation urges covered agencies to provide a description of the primary mechanisms for conducting business, describe substantive business disposed of outside of open meetings subject to the Act (with appropriate protections for information made exempt from disclosure), and exploit new technologies to disseminate relevant information more broadly.
3. Recommendation 2014-3: Guidance in the Rulemaking Process: This recommendation identifies best practices for agencies when providing guidance in preambles to final rules.  It suggests ways that agencies can improve the drafting and presentation of these preambles, including making it easier to identify any guidance content.  The recommendation also urges agencies to ensure that users of their websites can easily locate the required small entity compliance guides.
4. Recommendation 2014-4: “Ex Parte” Communications in Informal Rulemaking: This recommendation provides guidance and best practices to agencies for managing "ex parte" communications between agency personnel and nongovernmental interested persons regarding the substance of informal rulemaking proceedings conducted under 5 U.S.C. § 553.
Twice a year, the full membership of the Administrative Conference meets in plenary session and debates and votes on recommendations received from Conference committees
About ACUS
The Administrative Conference of the United States is an independent federal agency dedicated to improving the administrative process through consensus-driven applied research, providing nonpartisan expert advice and recommendations for improvement of federal agency procedures.  Its membership is composed of innovative federal officials and experts with diverse views and backgrounds from both the private sector and academia.   
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