For over a year now, we at OGIS have regularly presented dispute resolution skills training sessions to FOIA professionals at various agencies. It’s been a fun, exciting effort that has given us an opportunity to meet FOIA professionals from all across the government. Unfortunately — with the exception of the few sessions we presented at the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP) conference — it has not given us an opportunity to meet many FOIA professionals from outside of Washington, D.C.
OGIS’s latest training effort aims to change all of that. Last week we presented our first “outside the beltway” agency-specific training session at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) National Records Center in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Three OGIS staff members traveled to the NRC to present dispute resolution training to 20 USCIS FOIA supervisory staff members. And when I say outside the Beltway, I mean way outside — the NRC is actually built into a cave!
Agency-specific dispute resolution training holds lots of benefits for the agency and for OGIS. It allows us to present DR skills in the context in which they are actually used. It also allows us to learn more about the agency and its FOIA processes. USCIS was a wonderful host and Karen, Candace and Kirsten found the USCIS FOIA professionals to be ideal participants. We are looking forward to expanding our agency-specific training program in the coming year.
OGIS is also looking for ways to reach out to the FOIA requester audience. On Tuesday, September 6 and again on Thursday, September 8, OGIS staff will be presenting to the public as part of NARA’s “Know Your Records” program. Check out the schedule for location and time. If you have a question for OGIS, or you would like to hear more about what it is that we do, we hope that you will stop by!