Freedom (of Information) Rings at COGEL 2018

liberty bell

The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) held its 40th annual conference earlier this month in Philadelphia, PA. COGEL is the preeminent organization of government ethics administrators, and its members work in the fields of governmental ethics, freedom of information (FOI), elections, lobbying and campaign finance. Members include governmental entities (state, local, and foreign) educational institutions, law firms and corporations.

OGIS was once again invited to participate on the FOI training track, and OGIS Director Alina Semo and OGIS Mediation Team Lead Carrie McGuire were honored to participate.

First, Ms. McGuire participated on a lively panel focused on discussing requests for voluminous records: “They Want HOW Many Pages? Voluminous FOI Requests.” Her co-panelists brought perspectives from both the agency and the requester side, and included individuals with state and local FOI experience as well as the Canadian national and provincial governments. The panelists shared strategies for working with requesters who file large requests, as well as tips for processing those requests.

The afternoon panel, “FOI Update: Surveying the Legislative & Litigation Landscape,” on which Ms. Semo participated,  included a representative from Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission Staff, and the Assistant Commissioner, Tribunal Services, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada. In her presentation, Director Semo reviewed trends in Federal FOIA litigation in the last year, and also described OGIS’s role in the FOIA process.

OGIS salutes COGEL on its 40th anniversary and the important role it plays in providing a forum for those who work in the government ethics, elections, FOI, lobbying and campaign finance spaces at all levels of government.