FOIA Advisor

FOIA News (2018)

FOIA News: OGIS announces dispute resolution training

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Dispute Resolution Training for Agencies

Nat’l Archives & Records Admin., FOIA Ombudsman, Dec. 12, 2018

Are you looking for a unique training opportunity for your agency’s FOIA staff, one that will improve communications within your FOIA program and with FOIA requesters? If so, now is a great time to schedule 2019 Dispute Resolution Training for FOIA Professionals for your agency.

OGIS offers our training program twice yearly to any interested FOIA professional, and those sessions fill up as quickly as they are announced. Additionally, we offer training sessions to individual agencies as our schedule allows. This free, daylong training session helps FOIA professionals develop valuable communication skills for preventing and resolving FOIA disputes. Attendees also learn strategies for working with difficult people and ways to collaborate with OGIS to resolve FOIA disputes that seem intractable. These skills and strategies help attendees improve their interactions with FOIA requesters as well as colleagues within their agencies.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Dep't of the Interior political appointee named Chief FOIA Officer

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Former Koch adviser to oversee Interior Department’s FOIA requests

Miranda Green, The Hill, Dec. 10, 2018

A political appointee and former adviser to Charles and David Koch will oversee Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent to the Interior Department, a position typically held by career staff.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last month quietly issued a secretarial order giving Daniel Jorjani the authority to oversee all FOIA requests at the agency, according to a document obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

Jorjani, who Zinke previously appointed as principal deputy solicitor and who has been serving as acting solicitor, will serve as chief FOIA officer, according to the Nov. 20 decree. Trump never submitted a formal nomination for a solicitor at the agency.

Read more here.

FOIA News: More on Lamberth's lambasting of State and Justice departments

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Good Faith or Bad?

Susan McGuire Smith, FedSmith, Dec. 10, 2018

The court indicated once discovery ends, Judge Lamberth will then see if [the court] “can rule out egregious government misconduct…” (Opinion p. 9)

This scathing opinion starts by quoting President Obama’s standard for his new administration’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) issued on his first day as President. In the new President’s policy, he used words like “openness prevails…act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation…agencies are servants of the public…presumption in favor of disclosure…” etc. (Opinion p. 1)

Read more here.

FOIA News: Court hammers gov't over Clinton emails; orders discovery to look into egregious conduct

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Judge orders Justice, State departments to reopen narrow inquiry into handling of Clinton email records lawsuit

By Spencer S. Hsu, Wash. Post, Dec. 6, 2018

A U.S. judge ordered the Justice and State departments Thursday to reopen an inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton used a private email server while secretary of state to deliberately evade public records laws and to answer whether the agencies acted in bad faith by not telling a court for months that they had asked in mid-2014 for missing emails to be returned.

Read more here.

Copy of decision appears in “Court opinions”

FOIA News: EPA hit with another lawsuit

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Green groups sue EPA for records of Wheeler meetings

By Miranda Green, The Hill, Dec. 4, 2018

Two environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for records of any meetings that new Administrator Andrew Wheeler may have held with his former employer and several other energy groups. 

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Friends of the Earth brought the lawsuit on Tuesday, arguing the EPA should release records of any meetings that Wheeler may have had with the communications and lobbying firm Faegre Baker Daniels.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Facing Subpoena Threat, Suit, EPA Limits Political Officials' FOIA Reviews

FOIA News (2018)Kevin SchmidtComment

Facing Subpoena Threat, Suit, EPA Limits Political Officials' FOIA Reviews, Nov. 27, 2018

EPA has quietly issued a new policy that sets a schedule for political officials to review Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) releases and also requires prompt disclosures of the review, a policy that the agency is citing to head off a pending lawsuit challenging the practice as well as a possible subpoena from House Democrats in the next Congress. At issue is a controversial EPA practice known as “awareness reviews” in which political officials review agency responses to FOIA requests.

Read more here (subscription required).

FOIA News: What were the worst FOIA responses of the year?

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Submit Your Nominations for The Foilies 2019

By Dave Maas, Elect. Frontier Found., Nov. 27, 2018

EFF is now accepting nominations for The Foilies 2019, our fifth annual “anti-awards” program for government agencies that, whether by maliciousness or incompetence, interfere with the right to access public information. It’s a tongue-in-cheek affair celebrating Sunshine Week (March 10-16, 2019), when a coalition of transparency organizations raise public awareness of the open government laws that make democracy possible.

Read more here.