Getting to Know the FOIA Advisory Committee: Paul Chalmers

Today we present an interview with Paul Chalmers, Deputy General Counsel for General Law and Operations at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), 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?

I work in a small agency and hope to gain a better perspective of FOIA issues as they affect the federal government generally.  I also hoped that my perspective might be of use in addressing concerns affecting the FOIA community.

What do you hope to accomplish from this experience?

I hope to develop a greater understanding of how individual agencies confront differing challenges and develop some potential solutions.  I would also like to develop a better understanding of the challenges confronting the requester community and help bridge any divide that might exist.

What is FOIA’s biggest challenge?

Attracting and retaining talented FOIA professionals. 

Tell us about your favorite FOIA experience.

Our requester community tends to be older and less technically savvy and relies on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for their pension benefits. It’s always rewarding to be able to assist them, even if they have not perfected a FOIA request, to locate the documents they need to receive or maintain their benefits.