Vol. XIII, No. 1
New "FOIA Forum" Program Planned
A new governmentwide training program on the Freedom of Information Act is being planned by the Office of Information and Privacy for introduction into the Department of Justice's training schedule this year.
Entitled the "Freedom of Information Act Administrative Forum," this new FOIA training program will differ from other such sessions in that it will be devoted almost entirely to administrative matters arising under the Act -- such matters as backlog management, record-retrieval practices, and automated record processing, for example.
Additionally, it is being designed to serve not only as a training session, but as a regular forum for the exchange of ideas and information on administrative matters among experienced FOIA personnel from agencies throughout the federal government.
The "FOIA Administrative Forum" will be aimed toward senior FOIA processors who directly handle FOIA requests on a day-to-day basis and have a specialized need to focus on the "nuts and bolts" of the Act's administrative processes. It will gather together a selected group of such access professionals for the dual purposes of reviewing matters of basic FOIA administration common to most federal agencies and also encouraging agencies to share successful techniques and strategies for handling such matters with one another. General subject matter areas initially planned for group discussion include basic administrative procedures, records management for FOIA purposes, management of FOIA requests, and the handling of particularly sensitive requests. In order to facilitate group discussions and inter-agency interaction, "FOIA Administrative Forum" sessions will be limited to an enrollment of approximately 45 experienced access professionals nominated to attend by their agencies.
This full-day FOIA training program has been designed by Office of Information and Privacy Associate Director Margaret A. Irving, who oversees all of OIP's training activities, together with Bertina G. Adams, her training assistant. Additional assistance on this specialized program is being provided by Charlene K. Wright, Deputy Chief of OIP's Initial Request Unit, who has long experience in dealing with procedural FOIA issues and other administrative aspects of the Act.
According to OIP Associate Director Peggy Irving, "the 'FOIA Administrative Forum' will seek to meet the training needs of well-experienced FOIA processors who might not function at the policy level regularly served by our 'Advanced FOIA Seminar,' yet they constitute the very backbone of FOIA administration governmentwide. Such access professionals have a wealth of experience to build upon and to share in a training session such as this if we design it, and continuously refine it, to match the areas of their administrative interest and expertise."
The inaugural session of the "FOIA Administrative Forum" is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, April 14. Present plans are to schedule a second "Forum" within a few months thereafter and then to hold two or more such sessions each year, depending upon the level of demand for the new program and the continued course of its development. (Information regarding schedules and enrollment can be obtained by contacting Bertina Adams of OIP at the telephone number listed on the FOIA Update masthead below.) OIP will be conducting the "FOIA Administrative Forum" under the auspices of the Department of Justice's Legal Education Institute (part of the Department's Office of Legal Education), through use of Legal Education Institute facilities.
This new "FOIA Administrative Forum" program will become another part of a wide range of FOIA training regularly offered by the Justice Department. In addition to its standard two-day program for attorneys and access professionals, which is offered six times annually, OIP conducts both advanced and introductory FOIA sessions twice each year. It also holds an "Annual Update Seminar on the FOIA" for upwards of 500 participants every October. See also FOIA Update, Spring 1991, at 2; FOIA Update, Summer 1986, at 1-2.
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