Welcome Remarks for the 10th Anniversary of the Office of Government Information Services
Government Publishing Office
October 10, 2019
Good afternoon. I am David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I welcome you to the National Archives and in particular to the Office of Government Information Services, which opened its doors 10 years ago in the fall of 2009.
Although “ombudsman” is not in OGIS’s name, Congress has specifically referred to OGIS as the Freedom of Information Act Ombudsman throughout its ten-year history. In that very important role, OGIS has been steadfast in its advocacy for no specific party, but for a FOIA process that works for all.
We at the National Archives were happy to welcome OGIS to the family a decade ago. This is a natural home for OGIS. FOIA, after all, is about access to records and the National Archives is the nation’s recordkeeper.
Every day, OGIS staff members “Make Access Happen” by educating stakeholders about how FOIA can be used to access Federal Government records. As President Lyndon Baines Johnson noted when he signed FOIA in 1966, “a democracy works best when the people have all of the information that the security of the Nation permits.”
In its work over the last decade with a diverse group of customers—both requesters and agency FOIA professionals—OGIS has provided services that are about so much more than records. OGIS staff members “Connect with Customers” through a range of services—educating stakeholders about the FOIA process, guiding and coaching to resolve disputes, assessing agency compliance with FOIA, and identifying opportunities for systemic changes.
But FOIA is not just about records; it is also about a diverse community of people who participate in their democracy through the FOIA process. OGIS’s work bridging requesters and agencies for the last decade has resulted in an important culture change in the FOIA landscape: stakeholders working together to ensure a fair FOIA process for all.
In its 10 years, OGIS has
- Responded to nearly 20,000 requests for assistance;
- Published 17 assessments of agency FOIA programs and FOIA issues;
- Published nine Annual Reports which are submitted to Congress and the President;
- Taught hundreds of FOIA professionals dispute resolution skills to help them fulfill their statutory duties;
- Testified before Congress - both the Senate and the House;
- Reviewed and commented on countless agency FOIA regulations;
- Chaired and managed three terms of the FOIA Advisory Committee, which brings together FOIA experts from inside and outside of government to identify solutions to FOIA’s biggest challenges
- Organized four very successful Sunshine Week celebrations at the National Archives
- Hosted four Chief FOIA Officer Council meetings; and
- Connected both nationally and internationally with individuals and organizations who are working to make access happen at every level of government both here and abroad.
Congratulations, OGIS on 10 years. All of us gathered here today look forward to seeing what the next decade brings.