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FOIA News: Inaugural meeting of Chief FOIA Officers Council

Allan BlutsteinComment

Chief FOIA Officers Council meets for the first time

By Luis Ferre Sadurni, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, July 25, 2016

The Chief FOIA Officers Council, charged with addressing the most important difficulties in administering FOIA across government, met for the first time July 22 to begin the process of implementing a “release to one is a release to all” standard for federal records.

The policy would make agencies release FOIA-processed records to one requester and simultaneously to the general public by posting them online.

Concerns about the policy from both journalists and FOIA officers were addressed at the meeting. Many reporters worry that releasing requested documents to the public would compromise their reporting by allowing others to steal their “scoop.” Agency FOIA officers were troubled by the burden of ensuring records are accessible to all and in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, and Nikki Gramian, acting director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), co-chair the council. The 103-member council also includes the deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the chief FOIA officer of each agency, and any other persons designated by the co-chairs.

Following enactment of the FOIA Improvement Act, the Obama administration charged the FOIA Officers Council and OMB with implementing the policy and addressing journalists’ and agencies’ concerns by Jan. 1, 2017.

Read more here.