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

Who has the mojo, baby?

We at OGIS are always looking for ways to streamline our procedures and we’ve encouraged your input. This time is no different as we seek your support in ginning up some mojo for an OGIS routine use! Yes, an OGIS routine use, as in a Privacy Act system of records routine use. Without getting too technical (or … Continue reading Who has the mojo, baby?

Checking it Twice: Appeals Provide Necessary Second Look

The FOIA process, as with much in life, provides an opportunity to give our actions a second look. After all, most of us don’t file a major report without asking someone to proofread for errors, right? Or walk out the door without one last check in the mirror? FOIA directs that requesters can appeal “any … Continue reading Checking it Twice: Appeals Provide Necessary Second Look

Back to (FOIA) School: Requester Categories vs. Fee Waivers

It’s back-to-school time—you can practically hear the rumbling of school buses and smell the new No. 2 pencils. As students across the country turn their focus from the swimming pool and summer camp toward reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, what better time for us to revisit some FOIA requester basics? FOIA requesters frequently contact OGIS for … Continue reading Back to (FOIA) School: Requester Categories vs. Fee Waivers

Government-wide Records Directive Addresses Electronic Records

By the end of the decade, Federal agencies must digitize management of electronic records—including the millions of emails sent and received each year—according to a new records directive introduced last week. With a focus on a digital transition, the Managing Government Records Directive issued jointly by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the … Continue reading Government-wide Records Directive Addresses Electronic Records

Thinking about process

When OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet opened the office in September 2009, three requests for OGIS assistance awaited her attention, yet she had no process in place for dealing with cases or any staff members to work on them. Since its inception, one of the great challenges OGIS has faced is figuring out how to do … Continue reading Thinking about process

More on Immigration Records

An OGIS-sponsored forum on immigration records on May 23 brought together FOIA professionals from five agencies which maintain immigration records with immigration attorneys and others interested in such records. The FOIA Ombudsman is spot-lighting each agency and the types of immigration records each holds. See previous posts on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Immigration … Continue reading More on Immigration Records

Got Appeals?

The administrative appeal process is an integral part of FOIA. Federal agencies received almost 10,000 FOIA appeals in the year ending September 30, 2010. FOIA sets forth two requirements pertaining to the appeal process: (1) agencies must notify requesters of the right to appeal any adverse determination; and (2) agencies must make a determination with … Continue reading Got Appeals?