In another hit to Bush Administration closed-door policies, Team Obama has appointed Miriam Nisbet as director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). OGIS was created to review and make recommendations concerning agencies' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies, procedures, and compliance, and offer mediation services to resolve disputes between requesters and agencies. The Office was part of the OPEN Government Act that was signed into law in December 2007, but struggled to get the support and funding it needed to get up and running.
Although 43 did his best to place OGIS inside the lion's den of the Department of Justice (DOJ) rather than the legislatively
mandated National Archives, everything seems to have worked out for the
best. OGIS has received funding and now has a leader who can further the transparency
movement that President Obama
and his senior
leaders are promoting.
In testimony delivered to Congress in late September, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli outlined the steps DOJ has taken to actualize Obama's openness goals, including issuing new information disclosure guidelines to government agencies, holding training conferences for agency personnel, and holding roundtable discussions with the FOIA requester community. Hopefully the new OGIS head will be able to harmonize with these initiatives.
-- Scott Amey