WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today appointed Melanie Ann Pustay as Director of the Office of Information and Privacy (OIP). Pustay is a 24-year career civil servant at OIP, starting in the Department in 1983 as an attorney advisor. She has served as Acting Director since January 2007 and replaces Daniel J. Metcalfe as Director.
Pustay manages the Department’s responsibilities related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which include developing policy guidance and ensuring compliance with the FOIA, responding to initial information requests made to the senior leadership offices, adjudicating all appeals from denials by any Department component under the FOIA, and handling FOIA litigation matters. “Melanie brings more than two decades of highly relevant experience and a record of both accomplishment and leadership to this position,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “OIP and the Department of Justice will continue to benefit from her insight, expertise and dedication to public service. I’m pleased she has agreed to serve in this critical role.”
During her tenure as Acting Director, OIP updated and completed the Department’s March 2007 FOIA Guide, compiled the Department’s report on compliance with Executive Order 13,392, and issued guidance for other agencies on proper reporting.
Before becoming Acting Director, Pustay served for eight years as Deputy Director of OIP. In that capacity, she oversaw the handling of responses to initial requests made under the FOIA for records of the senior leadership offices of the Department. Additionally, beginning in 2003 and continuing today, she has worked with government officials in China, Argentina, Chile and other countries to assist in implementing guidance for openness-in-government initiatives.
Pustay has extensive FOIA litigation experience and has argued cases before the District Court for the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, including handling a case in 1998 involving access to former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s official and confidential files. In 1992, she was responsible for the Department’s senior leadership compliance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which required the federal government to make records of President Kennedy’s assassination publicly available.
In 1987, Pustay was given primary responsibility for drafting Executive Order 12,600, which established procedures to provide notice to businesses when their information is sought under the FOIA.
Pustay has received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for her role in providing legal advice, guidance and assistance on records disclosure issues. Pustay worked briefly at a Washington-area law firm before coming to the Department in 1983. She graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1982, where she served on Law Review. Pustay received her B.A. from George Mason University in 1979, graduating summa cum laude.