This year—2019—we celebrate 10 years as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman. Anniversaries have a way of sparking reflection on the past, present and future—the theme of our 2019 Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. FY 2018 was our busiest yet. Among our activities, we
- Handled 4,681 requests for assistance—from FOIA requesters and agencies alike.
- Responded to our 15,000th request since we opened our doors.
- Published five compliance assessments—two of agency FOIA programs; two resulting from FOIA questions asked in the government-wide Records Management Self-Assessment; and one FOIA issue assessment.
- Released our first advisory opinion (on agency communication with requesters).
- Published our first FOIA Ombuds Observer (on navigating FOIA to access immigration records).
FY 2018 also saw the culmination of the second two-year term of the FOIA Advisory Committee. One of the Committee’s seven recommendations to the Archivist of the United States resulted in a legislative recommendation that we have included in our report—that Congress pass legislation to provide agencies with sufficient resources to comply with the requirements of both the FOIA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, particularly with regard to proactive posting of large numbers of records. Our report details the challenges presented by the intersection of the two laws and offers several possible legislative options.
We hope you will take a few minutes to read our report. Let us know what you think.