FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: DOJ & NARA announce "Sunshine Week" events

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

The Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration will host separate Sunshine Week events on March 11, 2019. DOJ’s two-hour program, which begins at 10am, will include a keynote by the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General of the United States, as well as the Department’s annual Sunshine Week FOIA Awards Ceremony. NARA’s four-hour program, which begins at 1pm, will include a conversation between the Archivist and the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, as well as panel discussions about the Office of Government Information Services and electronic recordkeeping.

Court opinions issued Feb. 19, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Krocka v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.D.C.) -- (1) reserving decision on whether agency performed adequate search for criminal records concerning plaintiff, because agency failed to “say the ‘magic words’ that it “searched all locations likely to contain responsive documents”; (2) finding that agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 3 (FRCrP 6(e)); 5 (attorney work-product); 7(C), and 7(D),

Brick v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that FBI properly withheld records concerning Eleanor Roosevelt’s travel to Soviet Union pursuant to Exemption 3 (Nat’l Sec. Act of 1947) and Exemption 7(E).

Stein v. SEC (D.D.C.) — finding that SEC performed adequate search for records concerning plaintiff and that its reliance on Exemption 7(A) was proper because plaintiff’s criminal and civil cases were on appeal.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

FOIA News: Federal court blocks access to FDA decision on Ebola drug

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Judge rejects Goldwater effort to force disclosure of FDA access policy to life-saving drugs

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, Feb. 19, 2019  

A federal judge has rejected efforts by the Goldwater Institute to force the Food and Drug Administration to detail publicly how dying people can get access to unapproved medicines.

In a 12-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton said attorney Jonathan Riches has no legal right to force the agency to disclose exactly how it reached the decision to allow two people infected with the Ebola virus to be administered ZMapp, even though the drug had not even gotten to the stage where it was approved for human testing. Riches contends the public is entitled to know how the FDA reached that conclusion.

Read more here.

FOIA News: FOIA Advisory Committee to meet Mar. 20th

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

The FOIA Advisory Committee will next meet on March 20, 2019, from 10am to 1pm, per a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published on February 19, 2019. As always, the meeting will be live-streamed on the National Archives’ YouTube channel at https:// www.youtube.com/user/usnational archives. Meeting material will be posted online at https:// www.archives.gov/ogis/foia-advisorycommittee/2018-2020-term/meetings.

FOIA News: Dep't of Labor posting more settlement agreements

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Through the Veil: OFCCP’s Transparency Results in Even Minor Contractor Violations Being Published by the Agency

By Lauren Hick& Leigh Nason, Nat’l Law Review, Feb. 14, 2019

Recently, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) began posting in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Library links to conciliation agreements between the agency and federal contractors that contain only material technical violations. Until now, the only conciliation agreements posted in OFCCP’s FOIA library have been those in which OFCCP has identified material discrimination violations.

Read more here.

FOIA News: NARA/OGIS recognizes Valentine's Day

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Will You Be Our (FOIA) Valentine?

Office of Gov’t Inf. Serv., Feb. 13, 2019

The FOIA process, like any relationship, depends on good communications. In the spirit of the season, OGIS offers Valentines greetings to FOIA stakeholders who demonstrate good communication skills every day.

  • We love all hardworking FOIA professionals, but particularly those who pick up the phone to talk to requesters. While making a call is an investment of time, it is often the most efficient way to help a requester narrow the scope of their request.

Read more here.

Court opinions dated Feb. 12, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Mabie v. USMS (S.D. Ill.) -- determining that Marshal’s Service performed adequate search for records pertaining to surveillance system installed at federal courthouse and that agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 7(E) and 7(F).

Edelman v. SEC (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees even though plaintiff substantially prevailed in underlying litigation, because agency’s actions were reasonable and no other entitlement factors favored plaintiff.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

FOIA News: OMB sets May 10th deadline for FOIA portal plans

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

OMB sets deadline for agency FOIA interoperability plans

By Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Fedscoop, Feb. 13, 2019

The White House Office of Management and Budget is asking agencies to get their National FOIA Portal interoperability plans in order.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 required that OMB and the Department of Justice simplify the Freedom of Information Act landscape by creating a central portal that anyone can visit to submit a request to any agency. Today, that portal lives at FOIA.gov.

Read more here.

FOIA News: HUD's FOIA-processing system offline since January

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

HUD’s System for Processing Public Records Requests Died During the Shutdown

The contract for the agency’s electronic system for managing FOIA requests lapsed in early January and hasn’t been renewed. Delays are mounting.

By Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan, Feb. 13, 2019

The partial federal shutdown ended weeks ago, but one lingering effect turns out to be citizens’ ability to get public records from a government agency.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s public records management and tracking system has been offline since early January, when a contract to run it lapsed.

Read more here.