The 411 on FOIA & the White House

Quick FOIA quiz: Is the White House subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)? Yes. And no. It depends on the function of a particular White House office. Offices within the Executive Office of the President that “wield … substantial authority independent of the President” are subject to FOIA, the Court of Appeals for … Continue reading The 411 on FOIA & the White House

Throwback Thursday: Thinking about Exemption 4

We get many requests for assistance related to FOIA Exemption 4, which protects from disclosure commercial and financial information provided to the government. For example, over the last few months we have heard from requesters frustrated about delays related to submitter notice and an agency interested in brainstorming how best to communicate with the entities … Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Thinking about Exemption 4

The Business of Search

Composing a successful FOIA request can be tricky. Agencies are responsible for a mind-boggling amount of information, and finding a record amid years and years of accumulated documents can feel like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack (though some requesters and agency professionals would probably argue that the haystack searcher’s task is the … Continue reading The Business of Search

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