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OIP Holds Silver Anniversary Celebration

On November 2, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the date on which the Office of Information and Privacy came into existence in 1981, OIP marked that milestone by holding a special silver anniversary celebration.

This event, which was held in OIP's new offices on New York Avenue overlooking the White House, was attended by many of the 250 attorneys, paralegal FOIA specialists, and support personnel who have worked at OIP during its twenty-five years -- as well as by many other government and nongovernment members of the FOIA community. Attendees included United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, former Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Carl Stern, National Archives General Counsel Gary Stern, and National Security Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs.

OIP alumni came to this reunion from far and wide, including a former law clerk from Colorado and a former OIP attorney from the early 1980s who is now a federal drug prosecutor in Hawaii. It was noted at the celebration that over the years OIP's alumni have gone on to work in more than two dozen other federal agencies, proliferating OIP's expertise widely across the federal government, and that as many as ten former OIP staff members have advanced to Senior Executive Service-level positions elsewhere.

This also was an occasion for many of those in attendance to say a belated farewell to former OIP Co-Director Richard L. Huff, who retired last October. Near the end of the gathering, after Dick Huff had greeted those who had their first chance to wish him well in his retirement, OIP Director Daniel J. Metcalfe surprised nearly everyone with the announcement that he, too, will be retiring from government service in the coming months.

Dan Metcalfe, who headed OIP for its first twenty-four years together with Dick Huff and has served for the past year as OIP's sole director, said that he had decided to retire after reaching the minimum retirement age of fifty-five in order to enjoy multiple opportunities now available outside of government, including teaching law.

"Having first joined the Justice Department in 1971, then earning the unique chance to create OIP and becoming the Department's youngest career senior executive ever at age thirty-two, I have the rare opportunity to retire in my mid-fifties with a full career of such government service already behind me," he said.

Dan Metcalfe began his Justice Department career as a teenage intern during college, then worked as a law clerk in the Attorney General's Office during law school, and after a clerkship with a federal judge rejoined the Department as a trial attorney in its Civil Division in 1977. Four years later, after litigating many cases that became leading FOIA precedents, he was appointed as Acting Director of one of OIP's two predecessor offices and together with Dick Huff quickly merged them into one consolidated FOIA policy and litigation office -- which they named the Office of Information and Privacy. OIP has been an independent component of the Justice Department since the early 1990s.

"Looking forward," he emphasized, both he and Dick Huff "will be interested in seeing the office that [they] created and sustained for so many years continue its tradition of excellence in all that it does." He noted that "fortunately for the Department, and the government as a whole, OIP has developed a very capable management team, including Melanie Pustay and Janice McLeod, to carry on its work in the face of the challenges that lie ahead."

It is expected that longtime OIP Deputy Director Melanie Ann Pustay, who joined it in 1983, will become its Acting Director when Dan Metcalfe retires in early January.  (posted 11/3/06)

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