Last week, the Justice Department welcomed individuals from around the government and members of the public to the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy building to kickoff Sunshine Week 2018. This year’s event included the presentation of the 2018 Sunshine Week FOIA Awards and keynote remarks from OIP Director Melanie Ann Pustay.
The event began with a welcome from Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, who also serves as the Department’s Chief FOIA Officer. The Acting Associate Attorney General noted, “Sunshine Week serves as an opportunity for us to recognize the importance of transparency in government and the many contributions of civil servants dedicated to that goal.” The Acting Associate Attorney General thanked FOIA professionals from across the government for their tireless efforts to implement the law and for “helping secure liberty through accountable government.”
In her remarks, Director Pustay discussed some of the new resources and initiatives OIP has been working on to assist agencies in the advancement of the government’s FOIA Administration. Director Pustay highlighted OIP’s new Self-Assessment Toolkit and the new National FOIA Portal that went live on FOIA.gov last week. She also noted examples of great achievements by agencies in various parts of FOIA administration such as establishing effective systems for processing requests, proactive disclosures, and efforts to greater utilize technology.
Following her remarks, Director Pustay recognized this year’s Sunshine Week Award recipients. During the award presentation ceremony Director Pustay highlighted key achievements in FOIA administration for each recipient.
The following awards were presented:
Exceptional Service by a FOIA Professional or a Team of FOIA Professionals
This award recognized exemplary performance by an agency FOIA professional or team of FOIA professionals in carrying out the agency’s administration of the FOIA. Five Exceptional Service awards were presented to:
- Roy Lathrop – Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Warren Jackson – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- The Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy Office and Office of Biometric Identity Management FOIA Teams
- The United States Postal Service FOIA Team
Exceptional Advancements in the Area of IT to Improve the Agency’s FOIA Administration
This award recognized exceptional achievements in greater utilizing technology to make information more accessible. These efforts could include the implementation of new and advanced technologies to increase efficiencies as well as to improve proactive disclosures and the online availability of information.
- Michael Gavron and Pete Nuckols – U.S. Department of Agriculture
Exceptional Achievements by an Agency or Team of Professionals at an Agency to Advance the Proactive Disclosure of Information
This award recognized exceptional achievements by an agency or team of professionals at the agency to proactively make more information available online. These efforts could include both the posting of more information online and steps taken to make that information more useful to the public.
- The National Labor Relations Board FOIA Branch
Lifetime Service Award
This award recognized an individual with at least twenty years of service who demonstrated high standards of excellence and dedication. The Lifetime Service award was presented to:
- Brian Welsh – U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services
- John Livornese – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission