FOIA Advisor


FOIA News: DOJ continues to protect mug shots

Allan BlutsteinComment

Feds: Mug shots too revealing to be made public

By Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, Apr. 22, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice under President Donald Trump is staking the same ground as the previous administration in opposing the Detroit Free Press' legal fight over the public release of criminal mug shots in federal cases.

In a bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court from taking up a case the Free Press originally filed in 2013, the Department of Justice argued in a brief filed April 12 that those accused of crimes have a privacy interest in keeping mug shots out of the public eye — especially in today's Internet age in which mugshots can live online in perpetuity.

Read more here.

FOIA News: More on the "National FOIA Portal"

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Government is one step closer to a one-stop shop for FOIA requesters

By Samantha Ehlinger, fedscoop, Apr. 21, 2017

Digital services group 18F is is going to help develop the government’s centralized portal for Freedom of Information Act requests, according to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, who will collaborate with them on the project.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 signed into law last year mandated the creation of a centralized portal — one place for people to go to submit a request for records from any agency. The act also requires the portal be interoperable with request processing software agencies are using.

Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy at DOJ, said Thursday that the office had secured $1.3 million in funding for the project, dubbed the National FOIA Portal, adding “we’re happy obviously with that amount.”

Read more here.

FOIA News: "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" Provides FOIA Tutorial

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Full Frontal Gives Us a Hot New FOIA Tutorial for Spring

Almee Lutkin, Jezebel, Apr. 20, 2017

Here’s some good, clean fun for people considering getting into make up tutorials on YouTube or filing FOIA reports with the government. It’s a very gentle introduction to both.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shared this video of writer Ashley Nicole Black cheerfully leading viewers through the process of filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, allowing them to access records on their government for big scoops or their own intel. “It’s a totally basic look that anyone can do,” says Black.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Judicial Watch Sues IRS Over Email Preservation

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Judicial Watch Sues IRS Over Email Preservation

WBIW, Apr. 20, 2017

Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain records relating to the agency's "preservation and/or retention" of the email records of officials who have left the agency since January 2010. (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No.1:17-cv-00596)).

The suit was filed as part of Judicial Watch's continuing efforts to gain information about the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and citizens during the Obama administration.

Read more here.

FOIA News: DOJ OIP asks for assistance on National FOIA Portal

FOIA News (2017)Kevin SchmidtComment

OIP Seeks Your Participation In The Development Of The National FOIA Portal

April 19, 2017

Today, OIP is pleased to announce its collaboration with GSA’s 18F team on the development of a National FOIA Portal.

This is the next step in a long line of OIP initiatives working towards a National FOIA Portal going back to 2010 with the launch of Most recently, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 required the creation of a National FOIA Portal that is interoperable with agencies’ current systems and allows the public to submit a request for records to any agency from a single website.

FOIA requesters and agency personnel: your participation will be key to the success of this portal. Building off previous work and research with FOIA users, OIP and 18F will focus on user research and discovery of issues necessary to inform future development. If you’re interested in joining the effort and providing feedback throughout the process, please email us at sends e-mail) by April 28, 2017.

Read more here.

Court opinion issued Apr. 17, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Am. Ctr. for Law & Justice v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- dismissing requester's "policy or practice" claim that alleged agency had an "impermissible practice, policy, and pattern of [intentionally issuing] untimely and noncompliant FOIA responses," but otherwise allowing "basic FOIA challenge related to one particular request" to proceed.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.