Did you know that October is Conflict Resolution Month? While we at OGIS believe that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is important every month, we are also happy to have an excuse to highlight our ADR activities.
OGIS’s Mediation Program
We offer dispute resolution services, including mediation and other informal processes such as facilitation or conciliation, to help FOIA work better for all. As part of this program, OGIS staff facilitates communication between parties to resolve—and prevent—disputes. We also provide ombuds services by providing information about the FOIA process and receiving general complaints and observations.
FOIA requesters and agencies may request our assistance in resolving a dispute at any point in the FOIA process. In accordance with the International Ombudsman Association’s Code of Ethics, we are a designated neutral and do not “take sides” in a dispute or advocate on behalf of a requester or agency; rather, we advocate for the FOIA process itself. If you would like to learn more about our mediation program, check out our webpage.
OGIS’s Training Program
OGIS isn’t alone in providing FOIA dispute resolution services. Agency FOIA Public Liaisons are also required under the law to help prevent and resolve disputes. To support this role, we provide Dispute Resolution training for FOIA professionals, a free day-long class in which we teach valuable communications skills. You can learn more about our training program here, and keep an eye on this blog for the announcement of upcoming sessions.