In Good Company

A few of us from OGIS recently attended a presentation by the Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group, an organization for Federal employees who work in the area of alternative dispute resolution. The title of the presentation was “How an Ombuds Office Serving Employees, Customers, and Citizens Can Bring Greater Success to Your Agency.” The … Continue reading In Good Company

Thinking about FOIA Libraries

On January 21, 2013, representatives of 12 agencies and several requester groups gathered to discuss online FOIA “libraries.” The Attorney General’s 2009 FOIA Memorandum encouraged agencies to post information online in advance of a formal request. Many agencies’ FOIA regulations also require them to post records for which they receive multiple requests, and other agencies … Continue reading Thinking about FOIA Libraries

Dealing with Surplus in a Time of Scarcity: Reducing FOIA Backlogs

  There’s a great deal of pressure on agencies to reduce the number of FOIA requests in their backlogs. The FOIA community talks a lot about backlogs, but mostly in numbers, not in terms of how some agencies have succeeded in reducing the number of cases awaiting response. Considering the budget environment in which all … Continue reading Dealing with Surplus in a Time of Scarcity: Reducing FOIA Backlogs

Don’t shut your eyes to the importance of FOIA regulations

Freedom of Information Act regulations sound like a sure cure for insomnia, but if FOIA were a movie, their role would be a real sleeper. We at OGIS recognize that well-crafted FOIA regulations are key to an effective agency FOIA process so we regularly comment on proposed changes to regulations as part of our statutory … Continue reading Don’t shut your eyes to the importance of FOIA regulations

A Peek Inside the Sausage Factory

While many (correctly) associate OGIS with mediation services to resolve FOIA disputes, those services are not the full extent of our mandate. Congress created OGIS to also review agencies’ FOIA policies, procedures and compliance. Sounds great, but how does OGIS learn what agencies are doing, and what do we do with that information? Obviously, our … Continue reading A Peek Inside the Sausage Factory

Timing is Everything: When Does OGIS Get Involved?

Experienced FOIA requesters can attest that FOIA requests follow a well-established process: a requester submits a request; the agency responds to that request; if the requester is dissatisfied with the response, he/she submits an administrative appeal; the agency responds to the appeal. Before OGIS opened in 2009, a requester who remained dissatisfied after the agency … Continue reading Timing is Everything: When Does OGIS Get Involved?

Reconciling FOIA and the Privacy Act

When you request records about yourself from the Federal government, agencies apply both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974 (Privacy Act) to grant the most access possible. FOIA and the Privacy Act have different purposes. FOIA provides the public with a right of access to government records while the … Continue reading Reconciling FOIA and the Privacy Act