Congress and the President did a great public service in passing and signing the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007 (P.L. 110–175), which included a provision to create an independent FOIA ombudmsan, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). But in what seems to be another example of a step forward and a giant leap backward, the government has now placed OGIS in flux by neglecting to fund the office.
Earlier this year, the Administration requested that OGIS be moved from the National Archives right into the lion's den at DOJ--the agency charged with defending agencies in FOIA disputes. Some have likened that move to "having your judge married to opposing counsel--only imagining these two in bed is a whole lot worse given the climate of secrecy and closure of public records that has occurred even without a Justice/FOIA marriage."
OGIS was created to review policies and procedures and compliance of agencies, recommend policy changes to Congress and the President, and offer mediation services to resolve disputes between requesters and agencies.
Some Members of Congress are fighting a good fight to keep OGIS at the National Archives, but more needs to be done. OGIS also needs funding to get up and running.
-- Scott Amey