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Talking Back to FOIA

Though an ombudsman has many roles, one of the most important is to serve as a listening ear for a larger organization.  As the FOIA ombuds office, OGIS listens to complaints regarding the federal FOIA process; however, as a new entity, we are still figuring out how to best gather feedback from the requester community and agency FOIA staff.

OGIS and the Department of Justice Office for Information Policy (OIP), the federal FOIA policy office, established a series of requester round tables in Washington, D.C., to provide requesters a chance to share their ideas and concerns. On May 7, a requester round table was held at OIP to discuss law enforcement records. Participants made it quite clear, however, that the issue on their minds was referrals and consultations. While the discussion was lively, it was far from complete; for this reason, the next requester round table — scheduled for July 14, 2011 — will focus entirely on referrals and consultations.

We were pleased with the discussion at the last requester round table, though we would really like to expand attendance.  We are aware, however, that not every FOIA requester lives in the Washington, D.C. area, so we turn to you for suggestions. If you are a requester who would like to share your two cents with OGIS and OIP, how would you like to do so? Through a conference call? Using WebEx, GoToMeeting or some similar technology? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We want to know what works for you!

While real-time discussion is great, we want to be sure that you in the requester community are aware of other ways to share your thoughts and concerns with OGIS. The first is this blog. While we post on specific topics and ask for feedback, we are happy to hear your comments on any FOIA topic. We would love to host a lively discussion in our comments section! You can also contact us by email or phone.

Please share your thoughts in the comments about how we can do a better job as the listening ear for FOIA. We want to hear from you!