In this season of thankfulness, OGIS offers a short list of things to be thankful for (aside from not-from-a-can creamed corn, pumpkin cheesecake and homemade (beer) biscuits that will grace tables of OGIS staffers this Thanksgiving).
In no particular order, OGIS is thankful for:
FOIA itself. Right-to-know laws and constitutional provisions in 105 countries around the globe give more than 5.3 billion people the right – on paper – to know what their government is up to, according to a recent Associated Press investigation. In the Un
ited States, nearly 600,000 FOIA requests a year are made for information from 97 Federal departments and agencies – from the behemoth Department of Defense to the tiny U.S. African Development Foundation. And though FOIA does not always work as intended, by and large it does work and we’re thankful to be in a country that affords its citizens freedom of information.
FOI professionals in other countries with whom we can share information and support. Karen Finnegan, OGIS Deputy Director, was in Ottawa this week representing the American Society of Access Professionals at the annual meeting of OGIS’s sister organization, the Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA). OGIS staff is fortunate to meet frequently with representatives of both governments and non-governmental organizations of countries interested in knowing more about how the U.S. FOIA works.
Obstacles in performing our statutory mission! Yes, you read that right. OGIS is thankful for the obstacles we have faced in our first two years because they have provided us with an opportunity for self-examination and learning. The experiences have pushed us to re-examine our internal processes and led to clarity about our statutory mission and our approach in how we offer the services Congress intended OGIS to provide. Growth is not optional and feedback from our stakeholders is invaluable. Help us help you by sharing your thoughts and ideas with us as we continue to refine our processes and improve customer service.
FOIA Public Liaisons and FOIA Contacts. These great first points of contact make our lives at OGIS much easier – and the FOIA process run more smoothly. They answer our calls, respond to our emails and respond to FOIA requesters all while dispensing their wealth of knowledge about the FOIA process and the law. We are especially thankful for those who are willing to go above and beyond.
FOIA requesters! OGIS loves hearing from requesters around the globe who offer suggestions on improving the FOIA process. We appreciate the opportunity to provide information, work to resolve disputes and help requesters answer their questions — and hope we’re able to point to resources that will, in turn, help requesters help themselves.