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
Our last post offers some practical tips for FOIA professionals wishing to incorporate alternative dispute resolution into the FOIA process. We picked up more good ideas later in the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP) 7th Annual National Training Conference during a session titled “Customer Service—It’s the Law!” The session, which included FOIA professionals Jay … Continue reading Customer Service: it’s a Smart Practice—and it’s the Law!
Do you find yourself flummoxed when faced with an angry FOIA requester? Do you regularly take "no" for an answer from your agency’s program people? We can help! OGIS will present a training session designed to help FOIA professionals develop dispute resolution skills on Monday, December 9, 2013 at the Archives building on Constitution Ave … Continue reading Upcoming OGIS Training Session: Developing Dispute Resolution Skills
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
This is an excerpt from an actual FOIA appeal response letter: Dear [name redacted], Reference is made to your letter to the [agency]…regarding the above referenced file. Through your letter you appeal the determination made…that certain records responsive to your request (or portions thereof) are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). … Continue reading FOIA Letters and Plain Writing
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
We at OGIS have a serious case of plain writing fever. As you read on the FOIA Ombudsman a few weeks ago, the Plain Writing Act, signed in October, goes into effect this fall. We see this as unqualified good news! So what is plain writing? Simply put, it is clear, precise writing that makes … Continue reading More on Plain Writing
Government-speak -- with its acronyms, abbreviations and general jargon -- can make anyone’s head spin. Can the DoD IDA get trained on FOIA with CBT? Will the EPA FPL share an MOU with OGIS? OMG, it’s ridiculous enough to make you LOL (or SMH)! Some of us in the Federal world get a little entrenched … Continue reading Hold the alphabet soup, please.