Established by the OPEN Government Act of 2007 and opened in 2009, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) oversees federal agencies’ compliance with FOIA, serving as a mediator between citizens requesting records and the agencies responsible for furnishing them.
A glance at OGIS’ case logs shows that they address the full variety of roadblocks one might encounter in the FOIA process – from delayed responses to questionable denials, prohibitive fees to excessive redaction – OGIS caseworkers have closed well over 700 cases and assisted nearly 2,000 requesters in their first three years.
A potentially invaluable option for parties without the resources or expertise of larger firms, OGIS could be used to help formulate new requests or brought in to close out troublesome ones.
OGIS functions on the policy and reform side too, collaborating with agencies on new or modified FOIA regulations. Tasked with recommending changes in FOIA policy to Congress and the President, OGIS releases proposals and best practices papers regularly on their website.
Still in their early years, OGIS is a small office with a large and growing role to play in FOIA administration – worth a spot on the radar for public records professionals.