In the course of our work as the FOIA Ombudsman, we regularly hear from agencies and requesters about FOIA practices that work well. We also hear about practices that don’t work as well. Too often, such problems result in legal action by requesters. We have observed that the following agency practices can be “litigation invitations”: … Continue reading How to Invite a FOIA Lawsuit
Throughout 2011, OGIS observed a recurring concept: Federal agencies are succeeding through internal collaboration. This “team approach” to government operations promotes efficiency, reduces redundancy, and helps an agency successfully meet its statutory mandate. One area where teamwork is particularly important is records management; we’ve observed that many agencies are getting wise to this fact. President … Continue reading A New Game Plan: Teamwork Really Works!
As regular readers of this blog know, OGIS moved from College Park, MD, to Washington, D.C., one month ago. Our mailing address, email addresses and toll-free number remain the same, but our local telephone and fax numbers have changed. (For anyone concerned that our mail stills goes to College Park, MD, rest assured that there … Continue reading Updated OGIS Language for Agencies
We here at OGIS were so busy earlier in September that we missed a big one: OGIS’s second birthday. That’s saying something for a team that includes some talented bakers and chocolate aficionados. Two years ago, OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet walked into an empty office with a big congressional mandate: offer mediation services to resolve … Continue reading Happy (Belated) Birthday OGIS!
For over a year now, we at OGIS have regularly presented dispute resolution skills training sessions to FOIA professionals at various agencies. It’s been a fun, exciting effort that has given us an opportunity to meet FOIA professionals from all across the government. Unfortunately -- with the exception of the few sessions we presented at … Continue reading OGIS Reaches Out – Way Out
Conventional wisdom holds that August is quiet in Washington, D.C. While we at OGIS cannot attest to that -- it seems we are busier than ever this month -- we suggest that August is a great time to learn something new, namely, FOIA dispute resolution skills! We will present our Dispute Resolution Skills for FOIA … Continue reading Announcing Dispute Resolution Skills Training for FOIA Professionals
Many people believe that federal law enforcement agencies have some kind of investigatory file on them. The truth is that very few people have been investigated by an agency such as the FBI, but that doesn’t stop many people from requesting their own records from federal law enforcement agencies. (When an individual requests access to … Continue reading OGIS Case Study #1 – “I am pretty sure the Government has a file on me”
Those of us who live and breathe FOIA tend to stay pretty focused on the federal access law or, for those outside the Federal government, on a patchwork of U.S. state access laws. We may tend to overlook that there are now more than 90 countries with similar laws of their own, and we at … Continue reading Freedom of Information: Big in Japan (and Brazil and Spain…)
If you’ve called OGIS, had a case with us or read this blog, you’ve probably heard the mantra: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help!” We’ve heard from hundreds of people seeking assistance -- on everything from the expected -- FOIA delays, denials, fees and exemption use -- to the unexpected -- employee … Continue reading Setting Expectations
How often have you heard that statement? When you heard it, did you believe it? In the OPEN Government Act of 2007 Congress baked customer service into FOIA by creating OGIS to help the FOIA community resolve disputes and to recommend improvements to the administration of FOIA. Congress also codified the role of FOIA Public … Continue reading OGIStance: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help!”