Record Keeping for FOIA Requesters 101

Here at OGIS, we love good record keeping practices. Not only are we housed within the National Records and Archives Administration (NARA), which has responsibility for setting the federal government’s record keeping policies, we also know that strong agency record keeping is the backbone of a good Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office. If an … Continue reading Record Keeping for FOIA Requesters 101

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

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?

Live from D.C. … It’s FOIAonline!

Back in January, we reported that several Federal agencies had partnered to develop an online system aimed at expanding public access to information requested under FOIA. We’re pleased to report that FOIAonline is live! Beginning October 1, requesters seeking records from five Federal agencies can use FOIAonline to submit FOIA requests, track their progress, communicate with … Continue reading Live from D.C. … It’s FOIAonline!

New to FOIA? Get the Citizen’s Guide

  Interested in making a FOIA request for government records, but don’t know where to start? If so, we’ve got the resource for you! The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform just released a report titled The Citizen’s Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request … Continue reading New to FOIA? Get the Citizen’s Guide

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

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?

Scoping Out a Successful FOIA Request

Describing the scope of a FOIA request -- and on the agency’s side, interpreting the scope of that request -- often feels like more art than science. Requesters naturally describe requests in expansive terms to be sure that they don’t exclude potentially valuable information. On the other hand, agency FOIA staffers often feel like they … Continue reading Scoping Out a Successful FOIA Request