Today we present an interview with Adam Marshall, senior staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and a member of the FOIA Advisory Committee. This is part of a series of posts on the Committee, whose members are FOIA experts from inside and outside of government who are appointed by the Archivist of the United States.
What prompted you to seek appointment to the FOIA Advisory Committee?
As an attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, much of my job focuses on helping journalists obtain information from government agencies so they can inform the public. Over the last decade, I’ve seen too many instances where the core promise of FOIA — ensuring the public knows what their government is doing — has fallen short. The FOIA Advisory Committee is a unique forum where members of the requester community and federal personnel can come together to try and address the root of these and other pressing issues. I’ve been impressed by the Committee’s efforts over the years and hope my experience at the intersection of journalism and litigation will contribute to its ongoing work.
What do you hope to accomplish from this experience?
I strongly believe that robust and open dialogue between requesters and agencies can improve the FOIA process. As a representative for news media requesters, I’m hoping to work on issues that are particularly challenging for journalists, including the timely release of information. I’m also interested in ways to improve the administrative process to reduce the need for litigation.
What is FOIA’s biggest challenge?
Ensuring the timely and robust production of information to the public — which ultimately facilitates the democratic process — is what I see as FOIA’s biggest challenge.
Tell us about your favorite FOIA experience.
I’m very proud of the Reporters Committee’s work in bringing together members of the requester community to work on the FOIA Wiki. Through the FOIA Wiki, requesters collaborate to advance the public’s knowledge about how FOIA works. It’s an ever-growing repository of knowledge on caselaw, practical tips, and agency-specific information.