OGIS Director Alina Semo Testifies Before Congress

Above, left to right: James McTigue, Jr., Bobak Talebian, and Alina Semo being sworn in before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

If you missed Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Director Alina M. Semo testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 29, it’s not too late to watch the webcast. Director Semo joined James McTigue, Jr. from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Bobak Talebian from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy to testify on “The Freedom of Information Act: Improving Transparency and the American Public’s Right to Know for the 21st Century.” 

In her testimony, Director Semo highlighted the work OGIS has accomplished with the FOIA Advisory Committee and the Chief FOIA Officers Council specifically in regard to improving technology, amplifying federal career paths for FOIA professionals, and promoting models to align agency resources with transparency. 

Semo also noted FOIA Advisory Committee recommendations to Congress, specifically:

  • Adopt rules or enact legislation to establish procedures for effecting public access to legislative branch records in the possession of congressional support offices and agencies modeled after those procedures contained in FOIA. 
  • Pass legislation to provide agencies with sufficient resources to comply with the requirements of both FOIA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, especially as they relate to proactive posting of large numbers of records.   
  • Ask GAO to pinpoint systemic and/or specific compliance issues at agencies that Congress could then address in a targeted fashion, either through hearings or additional inquiries.
  • Ask GAO to conduct a study of the funding for agency FOIA programs to determine whether agencies have adequate funding to comply with FOIA and respond to requests in a timely manner, and what additional resources agencies need in order to improve the FOIA process overall.

Semo’s prepared statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee is available here, or watch a webcast of the hearing.