Category Archives: definitions and concepts

More on Declassification

Documents declassified by the government’s highest classification authority will soon be posted online in a new government declassification portal, a Federal declassification expert said at a July 25, 2012 FOIA Requester Roundtable. William C. Carpenter of the Information Security Oversight … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, Declassification, definitions and concepts, OGIS events, Ombudsman, Open Government, Records Management | 2 Comments

Strike up the Band – It’s FOIA’s Birthday!

FOIA has the most patriotic of birthdays — July 4, 1966. Last year we commemorated FOIA’s birthday by looking back at the unusual circumstances of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the law and noted that despite a shaky start, … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, definitions and concepts | 1 Comment

Estimating Completion Dates for FOIA Requests: Tips for Agencies

We receive a number of requests for assistance from FOIA requesters seeking an estimated completion date for their delayed FOIA requests. When we contact agencies for the estimated completion date, we sometimes get some pretty strong pushback. That’s understandable, since … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Best practices, definitions and concepts | 2 Comments

Improving FOIA

The following post is from OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet: The Freedom of Information Act directs OGIS to recommend “policy changes to Congress and the President to improve the administration” of FOIA. Since late 2009 when OGIS opened as part of … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, definitions and concepts, Message from the Director, Ombudsman | 1 Comment

Scoping Out a Successful FOIA Request

Describing the scope of a FOIA request — and on the agency’s side, interpreting the scope of that request — often feels like more art than science. Requesters naturally describe requests in expansive terms to be sure that they don’t … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Best practices, definitions and concepts, FOIA Public Liaisons, Ombudsman, Requests and appeals | Leave a comment

Difficult Conversations, Part 2: How do we get there from here?

In last week’s post we discussed the difference between positions and interests. In brief, positions are what an angry person presents during a confrontation; interests are the secret, unmet needs that anyone in a dispute may be reluctant to share. … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Alternative dispute resolution, Best practices, definitions and concepts, Mediation services, Ombudsman | Leave a comment

Difficult Conversations, Part 1: Interests vs. Positions

As part of providing mediation services to resolve FOIA disputes, we OGIS staffers regularly have conversations that can be characterized as “difficult.” We listen to FOIA requesters who are furious about delays or denials. We also hear from agency FOIA … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Alternative dispute resolution, Best practices, definitions and concepts, Fees, Mediation services, Ombudsman | 3 Comments

Tidying Up

While Sunshine Week provides many opportunities to celebrate open government achievements, it also provides the perfect context to reflect upon changes that could improve FOIA. Think of it as a little spring cleaning. Since opening in September 2009, we’ve worked … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Best practices, definitions and concepts, FOIA job series, Ombudsman, Sunshine Week 2012, Training | Leave a comment

Striving for Perfect Pitch: OGIS and Agencies’ Administrative Processes

Since opening in late 2009, we’ve received requests for assistance from requesters and agencies at every stage in the FOIA process. We’ve heard from requesters planning to sue within days of contacting us and we have heard from agencies asking … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, definitions and concepts, Mediation services, Ombudsman | Leave a comment

FOIA and ADR: Will You Be My Valentine?

My name is Jean Whyte, and I serve as Director of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.  I’ve been invited to write this guest post about the intersection of FOIA and ADR and why I … Continue reading

Posted in About FOIA, About OGIS, Administative Dispute Resolution Act, Alternative dispute resolution, definitions and concepts, Mediation services, Ombudsman | 1 Comment