White House inaction stalls FOIA recommendations

The government office created to improve the administration of the federal Freedom of Information Act has been waiting nine months to hear back from the Office of Management and Budget on its recommendations, reports Nextgov.

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was established in 2007 with the passage of the Open Government Act, a FOIA reform bill that was actively supported by ASNE and its coalition partners in the Sunshine in Government Initiative. OGIS was designed to serve as a FOIA ombudsman by mediating disputes over whether government records should be released or withheld, and making recommendations to help federal agencies improve their FOIA response. Although it has been up and running for over two years, OGIS has yet to formally reconcile a dispute and its recommendations haven't been released by the government.

OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet told Nextgov she isn't sure why OMB hasn't responded to her initial set of recommendations issued in February. “I'm really hoping they'll come out soon,” she said.

Although she declined to provide specifics, Nisbet said her agency's recommendations are similar to those she made in reports and  testimony before Congress. Nisbet and her staff have consistently pushed for more FOIA training inside federal agencies, for senior-level government personnel to be active managers of the FOIA process, and for all agencies to consistently engage with requesters to overcome processing problems or deficient requests.

ASNE and other SGI members have been working on both the legislative and executive fronts to get the recommendations released as soon as possible.