Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of our professional and personal lives. OGIS’s 2021 Report for Fiscal Year 2020 provides a window into the ways that the pandemic has affected the FOIA process across federal agencies, and describes OGIS’s work to assist requesters and agencies with the FOIA process in this unprecedented time. As OGIS Director Alina M. Semo notes in her message to readers, the pandemic is the narrative of FY 2020.
Among our activities in FY 2020:
- Handling 4,169 requests for assistance and shrinking our backlog of requests.
- Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by assisting requesters and agencies both individually through our ombudsman services and systemically through events such as the forum for FOIA requesters that we co-hosted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Publishing five assessments, including an assessment on how federal FOIA websites alerted requesters to the pandemic’s effect on FOIA processing.
- Leading and managing the FOIA Advisory Committee to the successful completion of the 2018–2020 term and delivering an unprecedented 22 recommendations to the Archivist of the United States.
- Managing the appointment of the 2020–2022 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee and hosting the inaugural meeting.
- Continuing our partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Chief Records Officer (CRO) for the U.S. Government to ask all federal agencies questions about preparing documents for posting on agency FOIA websites and FOIA performance measures for non-FOIA professionals.
We hope that you will read our report and let us know what you think.