First Branch Forecast

The Capitol Police Should Issue FOIA-like Regs — Here’s our Model Regs That Show Them How

Today Demand Progress Education Fund released model public records request regulations for the United States Capitol Police Force. If implemented, these regulations would create a FOIA-like process for the Capitol Police, which our multi-year investigation had previously revealed to be particularly secretive.

At Demand Progress’s urging, Congress requested in FY 2021 that the United States Capitol Police (USCP) create a process through which members of the public can request Capitol Police records. The agency was instructed to “develop a policy and procedure for the sharing of information that follows the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.”

Eighteen months have elapsed since the report was released and a year since the underlying legislation was enacted, and yet the Capitol Police have yet to implement Congress’ request and put forth such a policy. In response to this lapse, Demand Progress Education Fund crafted “Model Public Records Request Regulations” for the USCP in the hopes these regulations will inspire the Capitol Police to act and provide a standard against which we can judge the adequacy of their actions.

We believe it is long overdue for the notoriously opaque Capitol Police to respond to records requests from the public and the press concerning the actions of the agency. Law enforcement agencies routinely respond to public records requests, and we hope our Model Public Records Request Regulations will prompt the Capitol Police to the same so the public and press can hold the half-billion dollar agency to account.

The Model Public Records Regulations are based largely on the public records regulations promulgated by the Government Accountability Office and the Library of Congress. Both Legislative branch agencies, though not subject to FOIA, have regulations that largely follow FOIA’s spirit and process. Demand Progress Education Fund mirrored those provisions with slight revisions for clarity and to bring the model regulations in line with some of the FOIA’s more recent updates, as well as implement appropriate proactive disclosure policies.

The FOIA Advisory Committee, a committee managed by the National Archives, earlier this year adopted a resolution calling for the implementation of a FOIA-like process to components of the Legislative branch.

The cover page of our model regulations.

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