The FOIA process can be confusing for requesters, especially those who are filing their first FOIA requests or who do not know much about how a particular agency functions. Unfortunately, figuring out who you should contact within an agency to clear up that confusion and assist with a request can be equally baffling. FOIA Requester … Continue reading Who Ya Gonna Call?
As we have discussed, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 requires that agencies inform FOIA requesters that they can ask for assistance from OGIS and an agency’s FOIA Public Liaison (FPL) throughout the request process. But what kind of help can requesters expect to receive from FPLs and OGIS? While FOIA gives both OGIS and … Continue reading Help Me FOIA. Help, Help Me FOIA.
We are happy to announce that registration is now open for the October 18 session of our popular Dispute Resolution Skills for FOIA Professionals training. The free day-long session will be at the National Archives in downtown Washington, DC, location. During our training sessions, we help FOIA professionals develop a working knowledge of Alternative Dispute … Continue reading Reserve a Seat for Dispute Resolutions Skills Training Session
As summer winds down and pictures of kids on their first day of school fill up our social media feeds, we thought it might be a good time for a pop quiz on OGIS’s training program. Test your knowledge with the true/false statements below. Statement 1: OGIS recently launched its training program. Answer 1: False. … Continue reading The ABC’s of OGIS Training
FOIA Public Liaisons and the professionals who staff FOIA requester service centers play a key role in the FOIA process—they provide valuable assistance with a process that can confuse requesters. The recently passed FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 expands the role that these professionals play, requiring agencies to notify requesters about FOIA Public Liaisons and … Continue reading Upcoming Training Opportunity for FOIA Professionals
As the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman, one of OGIS’s important functions is to help FOIA requesters better understand how the FOIA process works. We do this by working directly with those who contact our office and by making a variety of resources available on our website While many of the requests for assistance … Continue reading Have a FOIA Question? We are Here to Help
We play a valuable role in facilitating communications between a requester and an agency. A recent request made by National Public Radio (NPR) to the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) provides an example of this function. NPR reporter Caitlin Dickerson made a request to the NRL for records about a World War II-era medical experiment that … Continue reading Case Study in Clarity
While the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires agencies to notify requesters of the legal reasoning for upholding either all or part of an initial denial, the statute gives agencies very little—well, actually, no—additional guidance about what should be in an appeal response. As you might know, we at OGIS are big fans of the … Continue reading The Appeal of the Appeal Letter
We have learned through both our mediation services and agency assessment programs that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to administering a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program. Agencies process different kinds of requests for vastly different records, and each agency faces its own challenges. For this reason, a practice that works for a small independent … Continue reading Smart Solutions to FOIA Problems
As we’ve previously mentioned, two subcommittees of the FOIA Advisory Committee -- Oversight and Accountability, and Fees -- have developed surveys to learn more about the areas they are examining. These surveys were recently sent to FOIA Public Liaisons (FPLs) and Federal FOIA professionals across the government. The purpose of the FPL survey is to … Continue reading FOIA Advisory Committee Surveys: Examining the FOIA Landscape