The United States Department of Agriculture Graduate School's Special Programs Branch took its Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act course on the road for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to Brigham City, Utah. The two-day course in June was an adjunct to a month-long course on real property for about 40 employees of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, some of whom traveled from Anchorage, Alaska. The instructors who traveled to Utah from Washington were Cecelia Wirtz, who is Assistant General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget; Kathryn Braeman, Deputy Director, Office of Information Law and Policy, Department of Justice; and William Snider, Administrative Counsel, Justice Management Division, Department of Justice. The subject matter of the course included an overview of the Freedom of Information Act, practical exercises in administering the Freedom of Information Act, and both an overview and a discussion of current issues in implementing the Privacy Act.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Freedom of Information Act requests received over the past year. Many of the requests are made in field offices. Therefore, the BIA felt the need to have its field employees instructed on how to deal with Freedom of Information and Privacy Act requests they might receive.
Offering a course in the field is a significant contribution to the proper handling of Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests, as field installation records become a more common subject of requests.
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