2011: A Look Back

OGIS Rainbow
Director Nisbet's photo of the view from OGIS's new offices,12/27/11.

As 2011 comes to a close, we at OGIS are taking some time to reflect on our second full year of operations. We are happy to report that we reached some milestones this year. Our outreach program continues to take root: we developed a 5-Step FOIA Dispute Resolution Process, which we routinely present in inter-agency dispute resolution skills training programs. At the invitation of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we took our dispute resolution training program to Lee’s Summit, MO, to train 20 supervisory FOIA professionals there. And we launched a pilot project with the U.S. Department of the Interior, offering an agency-specific dispute resolution skills training program on a departmentwide basis.

This year too we launched our new case management system and web portal, which we hope is a useful resource for the FOIA community. OGIS also partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Commerce to begin developing a multi-agency portal where FOIA requests can be made, records processed and responsive records displayed. In 2011 OGIS also took a first step in implementing the review prong of its mission by publicly commenting on proposed revisions to agencies’ FOIA regulations.

And last but not least, on December 9, 2011, OGIS moved into new office space near Capitol Hill. We are settling comfortably into the space and are very happy to be located within the District of Columbia closer to many of our stakeholders – agencies and requesters.

While we take some satisfaction in marking these milestones, we know that we could not have achieved them without the support of our stakeholders—both internal and external. OGIS is a work in progress and we truly value input from our Archives’ colleagues, FOIA professionals throughout the government and the access community.

As we consider the events of the year with the tremendous changes occurring in our own country, the Middle East and Europe, we are reminded of just how fortunate Americans are to be part of a democratic government that values transparency and accountability. The FOIA is one of our most important statements of America’s commitment to these ideals and underscores one of OGIS’s guiding principles: FOIA matters!  In the coming year, we will stay focused on our goal of ensuring that FOIA works as intended for all.  We look forward to working with you in 2012. Happy New Year!