FOIA Advisor

FOIA News (2019)

FOIA News: Pentagon and Lockheed cite Argus Leader to protect contracts

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

DOD, Lockheed Want FOIA Bid Blocked After High Court Case

Law360, Aug. 19, 2019

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling should block an advocacy group’s Freedom of Information Act for documents the group claims demonstrate the U.S. Department of Defense is skirting small business requirements, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin told a California court.

Read more here (accessible with free trial subscription).

FOIA News: ICYMI, FOIA Advisory Committee Hearing Scheduled for September 5, 2019

FOIA News (2019)Kevin SchmidtComment

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee; Meeting

Nat’l Archives & Records Admin., Federal Register, Aug, 12, 2019

SUMMARY:

We are announcing an upcoming Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee meeting in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the second United States Open Government National Action Plan.

DATES:

The meeting will be on September 5, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT. You must register for the meeting by midnight EDT September 2, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; William G. McGowan Theater; Washington, DC 20408.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kirsten Mitchell, Designated Federal Officer for this committee, by mail at National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Government Information Services, 8601 Adelphi Road—OGIS; College Park, MD 20740-6001, by telephone at 202-741-5770, or by email at foia-advisory-committee@nara.gov.

Read more here.

FOIA News: 9th Circuit affirms that animals are not "individuals" under FOIA

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Animals Aren't "Individuals" for Freedom of Information Act Purposes

By Eugene Volkh, Volkh Conspiracy 8/13/2019

In yesterday's Ninth Circuit decision in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dep't of Agriculture, the ALDF had asked that a Freedom of Information Act request be expedited; the statute calls for such expedited processing when "failure to obtain requested records on an expedited basis … could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual." The request, though, had to do with the health of Tony the Tiger (no, not the Frosted Flakes one):

Read more here.

FOIA News: Texas Sen. Cornyn joins push to strengthen public access to government records

FOIA News (2019)Kevin SchmidtComment

Texas Sen. Cornyn joins push to strengthen public access to government records

By Bill Lambrecht, Houston Chronicle, Aug. 9, 2019

A bipartisan alliance of senior U.S. senators, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, is sponsoring legislation to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June interpreting the word “confidential” in a way that further blocks the release of government-held information on businesses.

In Washington, Cornyn and three other Judiciary Committee heavyweights - chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, a former chairman, and Dianne Feinstein of California, now the committee’s ranking Democrat — plan to advance legislation after the Senate recess to counter the Supreme Court’s effects on the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Gov't must process 5k pages monthly regarding Khashoggi

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

NY judge cites ‘urgency’ of FOIA case regarding Khashoggi

By Associated Press, Las Vegas Review Journal, Aug. 6, 2019

Federal agencies must produce thousands of pages monthly of records pertaining to the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi because learning about his disappearance as quickly as possible is of “paramount importance,” a judge said Tuesday.

Representatives of the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense had told U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer that producing 5,000 pages monthly makes it impossible to respond in a timely fashion to other Freedom of Information Act requests.

Engelmayer ordered the agencies to get it done anyway, saying the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist and Saudi national was of “considerable public importance.”

Read more here.

FOIA News: Interior sought FBI's advice in designing FOIA policy

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Interior took notes from FBI while developing controversial FOIA policy

By Miranda Green, The Hill, Aug, 6, 2019

The Interior Department took notes from the FBI, which handles reams of classified material and is known as a slower responder to public records requests, while developing its controversial policy for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to emails reviewed by The Hill.

Internal emails obtained through a FOIA request by Earthjustice and shared with The Hill show that Interior employees were eager to talk to FBI staff who oversaw FOIA requests as it sought to deal with its own mounting public records requests.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Judge presses DOJ on FOIA redactions to Mueller report

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Judge questions Barr's handling of Mueller findings

By Jaqueline Thomsen, The Hill, Aug. 5, 2019

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Monday pressed Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers on why the public shouldn’t be allowed to see redacted portions of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, suggesting that he may be willing to consider releasing at least some of the restricted document.

Judge Reggie Walton, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, posed the questions during a hearing on a pair of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits seeking the redacted portions of the report.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Recap of Chief FOIA Officers Council meeting

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment


FOIA council seeks level playing field for ‘overwhelming’ IT acquisition process

By Jory Heckman, Fed. News Network, Aug. 5, 2019

Faced with another record-breaking year of new Freedom of Information Act requests, a governmentwide council of FOIA officers has recommended leveling the playing field for agencies struggling to modernize their IT amid a surging workload.

The Chief FOIA Officers Council’s technology subcommittee has recommended adding commercial, off-the-shelf FOIA and records management software to the General Services Administration’s schedules program, giving agencies an opportunity to purchase these tools without having to shop around for the best deal.

Read more here.