FOIA and the Digital Future on Agenda for October 19 FOIA Advisory Committee Meeting

FOIA Act Advisory Committee Meeting
Members of the FOIA advisory committee brainstorm ideas during the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) advisory committee meeting at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2016. NARA photo by Brogan Jackson.

The FOIA Advisory Committee has studied and considered the profound effects that technology is having on the way that government operates, and the public’s expectations for transparent government for a little more than a year. During its October 19 meeting, we expect for the discussion to focus on the draft recommendations developed by each of the subcommittees to address these challenges.

As we announced previously, the National Archives’ former Director of Litigation, Jason R. Baron, will address the Committee and discuss the challenge of implementing FOIA in a digital world during the October 19 meeting. We anticipate that Mr. Baron will highlight the deep connection between improving electronic record keeping practices and improving access to agency records through use of FOIA.  Mr. Baron will likely also discuss the implications of the increased volume of email agencies are archiving as a result of the continued adoption of the Capstone approach to managing email records. (For those of you who are not familiar with Capstone, it is an approach to email management suggested by the National Archives that requires agencies to save most employees’ emails for at least seven years while permanently retaining email from a certain number of designated Capstone officials; you can learn about the Capstone approach in far greater detail here). We also anticipate that Mr. Baron will point to the significant increase in the volume of email that FOIA offices will need to search as Capstone continues to be implemented, and existing technology and best practices that FOIA offices can use to ensure that they meet this challenge.

We are also excited to announce that the Proactive Disclosure Subcommittee has invited Max Galka to speak about his research involving agency FOIA logs. Mr. Galka is a data scientist and entrepreneur based in New York City, and is the creator of FOIA Mapper, a search engine for offline public records, funded by the Knight Foundation.

We hope you can join us for this very exciting session. Please register via EventBrite if you plan to join us in person. If you are not in the DC area, you can watch the session via livestream on the National Archives YouTube Channel.