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
FOIA is everyone’s responsibility. This is a common refrain for FOIA processors and records managers, but we have observed that it can be a challenge to impress upon those outside the FOIA department that FOIA is their job, too. For those who don’t live and breathe FOIA, having a cumbersome, time-sensitive project like a FOIA … Continue reading FOIA: Spread the Word!
We are pleased to share OGIS's 2012 report, Office of Government Information Services: Building a Bridge Between FOIA Requesters & Federal Agencies. We hope that you will read about our accomplishments over the past year and our thoughts for the coming year. Please email us with your thoughts and feedback.
It’s common wisdom in the library and information science community that if you have something and you can’t find it, you don’t have it. This principle is as true for agencies’ records as it is in university libraries, and it directly affects the efficiency and effectiveness of agency FOIA programs. We’ve written before about President … Continue reading Records Management Directive Shifts Into Gear
We at OGIS talk a lot about the importance of teamwork. Though we mostly think about teamwork improving everyday agency processes (such as FOIA) so that they run more smoothly, we recently heard about a cross-agency team recognizing a small opportunity and turning it into a big reward. Between 1946 and 1995, the Immigration and … Continue reading Teamwork Brings the Past to Life
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
Documents declassified by the government’s highest classification authority will soon be posted online in a new government declassification portal, a Federal declassification expert said at a July 25, 2012 FOIA Requester Roundtable. William C. Carpenter of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) at the National Archives provided tips on a variety of declassification issues and … Continue reading More on Declassification
When a requester wants access to records that are classified, he or she can choose to ask an agency to undergo Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) of those documents rather than filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. MDR requests allow the agency to give records a fresh look to see whether they might be … Continue reading Demystifying Declassification
The National Archives and Records Administration is home to some 10 billion records. Wrapping your mind around 1 followed by 10 zeroes can be a challenge, and so can figuring out whether and how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applies to those records. OGIS is here to help. While it’s difficult to apply a … Continue reading Making Heads or Tails of Archives’ Records
Many people believe that federal law enforcement agencies have some kind of investigatory file on them. The truth is that very few people have been investigated by an agency such as the FBI, but that doesn’t stop many people from requesting their own records from federal law enforcement agencies. (When an individual requests access to … Continue reading OGIS Case Study #1 – “I am pretty sure the Government has a file on me”