FOIA Advisor

FOIA News (2019)

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.

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: 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.

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

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.

FOIA News: SCOTUS sets hearing date for Exemption 4 case

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Supreme Court sets date in Argus Leader case

By John Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Feb. 11, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has set a date to hear a case that could determine whether taxpayer payments to businesses can be considered confidential information.

The outcome of Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media could have broad implications for what the federal government can keep secret under the Freedom of Information Act. The high court will hear the case on Monday, April 22.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Radio interview with USPS IG re: mistaken disclosures of personnel files

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

IG: Postal Service employee records disclosed in name of FOIA

Fed. News Network, Feb. 11, 2019

Weak controls at the U.S. Postal Service allowed confidential employee records to fly out the door on Freedom of Information Act requests. That’s according to the USPS Office of Inspector General, which first took notice because one of the former employees became a member of Congress. Lisa Nieman from the IG Office of Audit shared the details on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.