ASNE, other groups urge FOIA Ombudsman to revise strict confidentiality requirements

ASNE joined 11 other organizations on comments filed with the Office of Government Information Services in response to proposed rules regarding OGIS' own operating procedures, particularly with regard to the dispute resolution services it offers between FOIA requesters and executive branch agencies.
OGIS was created by the Open Government Act of 2007 with the goals of providing assistance to FOIA requesters and offering another means of holding agencies accountable under the law (it is sometimes casually referred to as the "FOIA Ombudsman"). However, it has taken the position, and seeks to reinforce that position in these proposed rules, that any advisory opinions it issues at the end of individual dispute resolutions (often taking the form of mediation) are somewhat limited in scope by the confidentiality provisions found in the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act.

We argue that OGIS' mediation services are not strictly bound by ADRA and, in any event, there is no reason to say that these advisory opinions should not be relied upon by parties in subsequent disputes. Our concern is that these restrictions will mute the power OGIS has to truly force agencies to follow the law.