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Wrapping up the Fiscal Year with Recaps from Workshops on Best Practices from the Requester’s Perspective and Best Practices for FOIA Training Programs

Launched in 2014, the Best Practices Workshop series was designed as a part of the United States’ Second Open Government National Action Plan commitment to modernize FOIA administration. The goal of the series is to improve FOIA processes by leveraging effective strategies from across the government, highlighting successes achieved by agencies, and sharing successful approaches on a wide range of FOIA issues.

As the fiscal year wraps up, OIP has updated its Best Practices Workshop page with descriptions of two workshops held earlier this year.  At the first workshop, agency personnel from across the government joined us for a panel discussion on Best Practices from the Requester's Perspective. Moderated by Director Melanie Ann Pustay, the panel included Tom Susman, Director of the Governmental Affairs Office at the American Bar Association and Sean Moulton, Open Government Project Manager at the Project on Government Oversight. During the event, the panelists highlighted noteworthy agency practices, including:

  • Regularly communicating with requesters and working with them throughout the process
  • Making contact early on with requesters to discuss procedural issues
  • Using technology to improve how requests are made 
  • Training and educating agency personnel to facilitate communications with requesters

Following-up this vibrant discussion, OIP held another Best Practices Workshop in focused on the topic of FOIA training programs. A proper understanding of the FOIA is critical to the success of FOIA administration and the panelists at this event discussed several best practices for ensuring a robust training program. Moderated by Director Pustay, the panel included Bobak Talebian from the Department of Justice, James Hogan from the Department of Defense, and Alexis Graves from the Department of Agriculture.  During the event, the panelists highlighted several best practices, including:

  • Reinforcing the message that FOIA is everyone's responsibility
  • Being creative and thinking outside the box when it comes to how you provide training
  • Tailoring your FOIA training to the specific needs of your personnel
  • Rewarding and incentivizing FOIA training

Additional details on the best practices discussed during these events, as well as OIP resources on these topics, are available on our Best Practices Workshops page.

The Best Practices Workshop series will continues in the new fiscal year with new topics to be announced on FOIA Post. If you have topics you would like addressed in a Best Practices Workshop we encourage you to let us know.  In the meantime, please be sure to continue reading FOIA Post for more information on this series and other events offered by OIP.

Updated December 1, 2022