FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: The Interior Department should honor Congress' intentions on FOIA mediation, opines Sunlight Foundation

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

The Interior Department should honor Congress' intentions on FOIA mediation

By Alex Howard, Sunlight Foundation, May 19, 2016

According to a letter published by the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the U.S. Department of the Interior is effectively ignoring six attempts by the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman to mediate FOIA requests dating back to February 2015.

In doing so, Interior is honoring neither the spirit nor intent of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which established OGIS within the National Archives and Records Administration. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, created OGIS "so that all Americans can be confident that their FOIA requests would be addressed openly and fairly." The purpose of OGIS is to act as an independent arbiter that starts a process to resolve disputes between federal agencies and FOIA requesters.

Interior ignoring repeated requests for mediation from OGIS goes beyond disregarding the instruction of the president and U.S. attorney general to approach compliance with the Freedom of Information Act with the "presumption of openness."

Read more here.