In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to take some time to give thanks for the many individuals who have worked with us over the past year to help improve the FOIA process. In particular, we want to recognize the members of the Chief FOIA Officers Council and the FOIA Advisory Committee.
Earlier this year we were very pleased to be able to open the doors of the William G. McGowan Theater to co-chair a meeting of the Chief FOIA Officers Council with the Department of Justice Office of Information Policy. Thanks to the discussion of our excellent panelists, we picked up great insight into how collaboration can improve the FOIA process for requesters and agencies. Participants also provided us with valuable feedback on how best to ensure that requesters understand the FOIA process and have a clear sense of who they can contact if they need assistance. As a result of the feedback, OIP published an updated template letter that it recommends agencies use to alert requesters of dispute resolutions services from FOIA Public Liaisons and OGIS, as well as appeal rights (you can find the updated template on our website).
The Chief FOIA Officers Council has an impressive mandate from Congress. The Council is charged with: developing recommendations for increasing FOIA compliance and efficiency; disseminating information about agency experiences, ideas, best practices, and innovative approaches related to FOIA; identifying, developing, and coordinating initiatives to increase transparency and compliance with FOIA; and promoting the development and use of common performance measures for agency compliance with FOIA. We look forward to continuing to work with our co-chair and the Council’s members to meet these challenges.
The FOIA Advisory Committee has also been instrumental in identifying methods to improve the administration of FOIA. By design, the Committee’s members represent a range of interests in the FOIA community, including large departments, small agencies, journalists, historians, and others who each bring a unique perspective to the work. We are extremely excited about the range of draft recommendations under development during the Committee’s current term. We encourage you to take a look at the Committee’s work and send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there someone in the FOIA community that you are thankful for? Let us know in the comments!