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10/21 FOIA Advisory Committee Meeting Wrap-Up

Image - WPA Library bookmobile, NARA Identifier: 195912

Rethinking FOIA takes careful study. (NARA identifier 195912)

On October 21, 2014, the FOIA Advisory Committee met to continue its efforts to examine and address FOIA oversight and accountability, proactive disclosure, and FOIA fees.

Archivist of the U.S. David S. Ferriero opened the meeting by noting that the momentum behind government openness and transparency is growing around the globe. In September, President Obama spoke at the Open Government Partnership meeting at the United Nations about the importance of Open Government and U.S efforts. President Obama referenced the work of the FOIA Advisory Committee, citing efforts to modernize FOIA so that it’s easier to administer and use.

Mr. Ferriero also acknowledged Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Director Miriam Nisbet who will retire from Federal Service at the end of the year.

To ensure that the Committee’s Oversight and Accountability, Proactive Disclosures, and FOIA Fees subcommittees have a clear path in the coming months to recommend improvement to FOIA, the Committee dedicated the majority of the meeting to status reports from the subcommittees’ Co-Chairs.

Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee Co-Chairs Martin Michalosky and Mark S. Zaid reported that the subcommittee agreed to focus its efforts on

  • identifying current authorities for oversight and past actions (program reviews, audits, reports, inspections, etc.) that have been completed by open government groups and others over the past 10 years;
  • determining opportunities for additional oversight;
  • assessing the implementation of the FOIA Public Liaison role and determining opportunities for improvement;
  • evaluating past litigation review efforts; and
  • determining opportunities for further oversight.

Mr. Michalosky noted that the subcommittee discussed oversight practices that work well within agencies, including self-policing, internal audits, as well as what agencies do across the board. Mr. Zaid observed that reports, studies, hearings, and investigations regarding FOIA oversight are not available in one central place and suggested creating such a collection online.

Proactive Disclosures Subcommittee Co-Chair David S. Reed presented an overview of the FOIA’s proactive disclosure requirements and the Department of Justice’s guidance encouraging agencies to proactively make information available to the public. Mr. Reed touched on the DATA Act and the benefits of standardizing proactive disclosures. Mr. Reed and Co-Chair Eric Gillespie explained the challenge the subcommittee faces in breaking down Federal agencies’ FOIA request by record type, request type, or requester type and in obtaining FOIA logs with sufficient descriptions to get the data needed for analysis. Mr. Reed and Mr. Gillespie asked whether there are agencies represented on the Committee that would be willing to pilot a project with the subcommittee on this issue.

FOIA Fees Subcommittee Co-Chairs James Hogan and Ginger McCall noted that the subcommittee had explored how Federal agencies and FOIA requesters perceive FOIA fees, how data could help define and analyze the issues, and how other countries handle open access law fees. Issues identified by the subcommittee include

  • lack of understanding among FOIA requesters and Federal agencies regarding fee-related FOIA definitions and requirements;
  • the lack of consistency in fee-related decisions; and
  • how fees are used in voluminous and vague requests.

The Committee has set an ambitious agenda. We look forward to updating you on the Committee’s work. Please visit the FOIA Advisory Committee’s webpage and subpages at for information about the Committee and how you can get involved. Do you have ideas or opinions you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

October 21 FOIA Advisory Committee to be live streamed!

Grab some popcorn and join us for the livestream! (National Archives Identifier 195750)

Grab some popcorn and join us for the livestream! (National Archives Identifier

The National Archives will host—and live stream—its second Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. The Committee will discuss the FOIA issues on which it has agreed to focus: FOIA oversight and accountability, proactive disclosures, and FOIA fees.

Due to space limitations and access procedures, advance registration is required. Spaces to attend the meeting are still available. Learn more here on the OGIS blog.

Can’t make it in person? We’ll live stream the meeting on the National Archives’ YouTube channel. Launched in June 2009, the YouTube channel highlights popular archived films from the National Archives holdings, informs the public about NARA events, and brings NARA exhibits to the people. The URL for the FOIA Advisory Committee meeting is

To learn more about the FOIA Advisory Committee, visit the Committee’s webpage at



FOIA Advisory Committee to meet October 21

National Archives Identifier: 6606170

Attention all readers! The FOIA Advisory Committee is gearing up for its second meeting later this month. (NARA Identifier 6606170)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. The meeting, which is open to the public, will discuss the FOIA issues on which the Committee has agreed to focus:  FOIA oversight and accountability, proactive disclosures, and FOIA fees. Speakers will include David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Miriam Nisbet, FOIA Advisory Committee Chair and Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Director; and FOIA Advisory Committee Members.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for the meeting, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 105 (the Archivist’s Reception Room) of the National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C.

Although this meeting is open to the public, space limitations and access procedures require that individuals planning to attend register for the event via Eventbrite. Eventbrite registration for this event will go live on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Eventbrite - Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee Meeting

The committee—comprised of 10 government members and 10 non-governmental members with considerable FOIA expertise—is mandated in the second Open Government National Action Plan (NAP) with studying FOIA across the government and advising on ways to improve it.

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations, please contact Christa Lemelin at 202-741-5773 or

Learn more about the Committee at Learn more about submitting questions and comments to the Committee at:

OGIS’s Website – And We’re Back!

We resolved our issues with the OGIS website. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and we appreciate your understanding. If you’re still experiencing issues with our website, please let us know.

OGIS’s Website – We’re Working On It

Under construction: We are working hard to get back online (NARA identifier 5585740)

Under construction: We are working hard to get back online (NARA identifier 5585740)

Those of you who frequent in the last day may have noticed that the website is not working properly in some browsers. We are aware of the issue, and we are working with our IT staff to fix the problem.

We apologize for any inconvenience this situation has caused you. Please bear with us — we will let you know when things are back to normal.