FOIA Ombudsman / Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
Established by Congress in the 2007 FOIA reforms, the Office of Government Information Services must mediate FOIA disputes and recommend improvements to FOIA operations. Located at the National Archives, OGIS should provide a fair, independent eye on transparency problems.
Congress invests $1 million in OGIS
Freedom of information hit a milestone yesterday when Congress approved the budget for fiscal year 2009 and included $1 million for the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), which Congress established within the National Archives and Records Administration to mediate disputes and recommend improvements to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Sunshine in Government Initiative hailed the funding as a stimulus for transparency efforts. "This is an important step towards having a fully functioning FOIA ombudsman," said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative. "For too many years, government transparency has been in crisis. As we celebrate Sunshine Week next week, journalists, bloggers and average citizens can celebrate knowing this office will soon help ensure requests for data and documents get a fair hearing. OGIS should help end stalemates and lengthy delays when faced with controversies over disclosure decisions. This investment will help agencies strengthen their responses to FOIA requests."
The Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) is a coalition of nine media groups promoting openness and accountability in government. Members of the SGI coalition include: American Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, National Association of Broadcasters, National Newspaper Association, Newspaper Association of America, Radio-Television News Directors Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Society of Professional Journalists.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative is a coalition of media groups committed to promoting policies that ensure the government is accessible, accountable and open. Public oversight is the ultimate safeguard of democracy. It is the inalienable right of citizens to examine and judge their government; and that right is served when news media act on behalf of the public to gain access to information. More information is online at www.sunshineingovernment.org.
SGI has pushed for the creation of the Office of Government Information Services as the federal government implements the requirements of the 2007 FOIA reforms. 2009-02-11