What Do Supervisors of FOIA Officers in USCIS Do?

by David L. Cleveland

US-CIS, in response to a FOIA lawsuit by the Louise Trauma Center, released 128 pages of instructions for supervisors of FOIA officers, dated October 2020. This article will quote some of the material. The pages are available on the “FOIA” page at www.louisetrauma.weebly.com, entitled “FOIA Case Approving Process 2020.”

Each “Government Information Specialist” (GIS) receives FOIA/PA Case Processing Training. During the first 90 days of employment, a supervisor will review random files, and for example, will review 10 instances of (b)(5) exemptions applied to the record. Page 6 of 128.

Supervisors will receive a “weekly error report” to determine accuracy rate. Page 13.

Employees may object to the declaration of an “error,” and file a Rebuttal. Page 19.

DHS has an Employee Performance Plan and Appraisal Form, Page 22, which lists five “Competencies:” 1] Communications 2] Customer Service 3] Representing the Agency 4] Teamwork and Cooperation 5] Technical Proficiency

Performance Goals are listed: 1] accurately applies rules and regulations 2] “Creates an average of three cases per productive hour” 3] 93% of cases are created without error 4] blank 5] blank [Page 25]

These words appear at the top of many of the pages:

With Honor and Integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values 

The employee is asked to sign and date these statements:

I have discussed my performance plan with my Rating Official

I certify that the mandatory formal mid-cycle progress review and discussion occurred.

A computer spread sheet is apparently created and maintained for each processor, with these metrics being tabulated:

Pages Processed

  • Processing Hours
  • Related to Cases Closed
  • Pages/Hour
  • =Pages Processed/

Processing Hours

  • Deviation From Avg.

Pages Per Hour

  • + or – PPH from

Department Avg.

  • Cases Closed
  • Open Cases
  • Accuracy Rate
  • = 100% - Error


Closed %

Comments of the author

The oft-repeated motto at the top of many pages:

 we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values

seems inappropriate. Why not: “We will ensure the intent of Congress is accomplished: we shall have an open government, and release all records unless an exemption clearly applies”?

About The Author

David L. Cleveland was the Chair of the AILA Asylum Committee [2004-05] and has secured asylum or withholding for persons from 48 countries. Based in Washington DC, he is available at louise.trauma.ltc@gmail.com

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.