FOIA Advisor

FOIA News (2019)

FOIA News: Interior IG asked to investigate FOIA program

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Green groups ask Interior watchdog to investigate agency's public records policies

By Miranda Green, The Hill, June 17, 2019

A number of conservation groups are asking the Interior Department’s internal watchdog to investigate reports that political appointees are improperly interfering in the release of public records.

Two separate complaints filed Monday by Earthjustice and the Campaign for Accountability say officials are using an "awareness review" policy to unlawfully delay the release of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and demand Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) look into the situation.

Earthjustice’s letter, dated June 14, claims the department's FOIA process "has been subject to political interference by political appointees and non-career staff" since 2017.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Summary of DOJ's FOIA report

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

2018 sees record number of FOIA requests, information seekers change

By Amelia Brust, Fed. News Network, June 7, 2019

The Justice Department’s prophecy that fiscal 2018 would be a record year for Freedom of Information Act requests came true. But as the number of requests continues to rise, the make-up of people submitting most of them has shifted.

Journalists are now the second-most common requesters of government records; the majority are now people seeking information on themselves.

In FY 2018 federal agencies received 5.6% more requests, or an increase of 45,458, than in FY 2017, for a total of 863,729 requests. Collectively, agencies also processed 0.85% more requests, or 830,060 total, in FY 2018 versus the previous year, according to DOJ’s annual report released Thursday.

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FOIA News: OIP Announces All Fiscal 2018 FOIA Reports Finalized

FOIA News (2019)Kevin SchmidtComment


Office of Information Policy, June 6, 2019

The Office for Information Policy is pleased to announce that all 118 agencies subject to the FOIA have finalized their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Annual FOIA Reports, and that OIP has released its Summary of the Annual FOIA Report Data for FY 2018

“With more than 100 agencies subject to the FOIA, this Summary is designed to be a ready resource for both agencies and the public, to gain an understanding of overall FOIA administration.” said Director Melanie Ann Pustay of the Office of Information Policy. 

Read more here.

FOIA News: OGIS to hold open meeting on June 14

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Join Us for Our Annual Open Meeting!

By Office of Gov’t Info. Serv., June 3, 2019

Got a question for the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)? Or do you want to hear more about our work as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman over the past year? If so, please join us for the OGIS annual open meeting on Friday, June 14, 2019, in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The meeting is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Read more here.

FOIA News: FOIA Advisory Committee to meet on June 6, 2019

FOIA News (2019)Ryan MulveyComment

The Office of Government Information Services published a notice in today’s issue of the Federal Register to announce the next meeting of the FOIA Advisory Committee on June 6, 2019, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Those who wish to attend the meeting must register by June 3, 2019. The meeting will be live-streamed for those who are unable to attended on the National Archives’s YouTube channel.

FOIA News: Interior Secretary defends FOIA review procedure

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Bernhardt defends Interior Department’s public records review policy

By Tribune News Service, Austin Amer. Statesman, May 23, 2019  

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended on Wednesday the agency’s policy allowing politically appointed officials to review and comment on public records requests that relate to them.

Appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to testify about his department’s budget, Bernhardt said the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal.

“It’s a process that’s very long-standing in the department,” Bernhardt told the committee. “We definitely formalized it,” he said. “It’s completely legal.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Interior maintains Obama's "sensitive review" policy

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Interior Department policy let political appointees review FOIA requests

So-called awareness review process could expose department to legal action

By Jacob Holzman, Roll Call, May 22, 2019

The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action.

Read more here.