Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

April 7 - Meeting Minutes (Certified)

2020-2022 Term Meetings Page


The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Advisory Committee convened at 10 a.m. ET on April 7, 2022 virtually. 

In accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, 5 U.S.C. App. §§ 1-16, the meeting was open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and livestreamed on NARA’s YouTube Channel.

Meeting materials are available on the Committee’s website at  

Committee members present at the virtual meeting:

  • Alina M. Semo, Committee Chairperson and Director of the Office of Government Information Services, NARA 
  • Roger Andoh, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Allan Blutstein, America Rising 
  • David Cuillier, University of Arizona 
  • Allyson Deitrick, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Kristin Ellis, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Linda Frye, Social Security Administration 
  • Jason Gart, History Associates Incorporated 
  • Alexis Graves, U.S. Department of Agriculture 
  • Kel McClanahan, National Security Counselors 
  • Michael Morisy, MuckRock  
  • Alexandra Perloff-Giles, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Tuan N. Samahon, Villanova University
  • Matthew Schwarz, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • James R. Stocker, Trinity Washington University 
  • Thomas Susman, American Bar Association 
  • Bobak Talebian, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy 
  • Patricia Weth, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Committee members absent from the meeting:

  • Dione J. Stearns, Federal Trade Commission
  • A. Jay Wagner, Marquette University

Others present or participating in the virtual meeting:

  • Martha W. Murphy, Committee’s Alternate Designated Federal Officer (DFO), NARA, serving as DFO in the absence of DFO Kirsten B. Mitchell
  • David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, NARA
  • Jessica Hartman, OGIS staff member
  • Michelle Ridley, Webex event producer 
  • Robert Hammond, public commenter


Welcome and Administrative Updates

Alina Semo, FOIA Advisory Committee chairperson and director of the Office of Government Information Services, welcomed the group to the eighth meeting of the fourth term of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee, and thanked Committee members for their continued commitment to studying the FOIA landscape. 

Ms. Semo reported that this would be the last FOIA Advisory Committee meeting for David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, due to his retirement at the end of the month. For his last meeting, she stated that they would have a short question and answer session with Mr. Ferriero. 

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero about his proudest achievements during his time as Archivist of the United States. 

Mr. Ferriero stated that he came to Washington from the New York Public Library to play an important role in the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative. He noted he was proud of the 2011 presidential memorandum which connected records management to open government. The memo allowed Mr. Ferriero to deliver a joint directive with OMB directing agencies to establish within agencies a senior agency official responsible for records management; creating an occupational series for records managers; and establishing the shift from paper to electronic records.

Mr. Ferriero stated that he was also proud of the work accomplished by the National Archives’ Task Force on Racism including in the areas of recruitment, retention, advancement opportunities as well as exhibits, educational programs and descriptions of the archival records.  He also noted the establishment of the  sleepover program for kids aged 8-12. 

Ms. Semo stated she wished she still had kids that age to have Mr. Ferriero cook them pancakes. 

Mr. Ferriero explained that kids in the program sleep on the Rotunda floor along with an adult family member/friend. 

Ms. Semo stated that Mr. Ferriero established the FOIA Advisory Committee and asked what makes the Committee special in the FOIA landscape. 

Mr. Ferriero thanked all the past and present advisory committee members for their work and stated that FOIA is one of the ways that the American people hold the government accountable and make themselves heard. 

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero if there will be a fifth term of the FOIA Advisory Committee.

Mr. Ferriero stated that one of his last actions as Archivist was to ensure that happens. He hopes it sends a message to the American public that the government is serious about access to information and their voice needs to be heard.

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero what he would like to see the Committee work on in the next term.

Mr. Ferriero stated he would like to see the Committee keep its attention on access to the records of Congress and turn its attention to strengthening the Presidential Records Act and FOIA. He also urged the next Committee to take a look at FOIA exemptions. 

Mr. Ferriero stated that the National Archives has a large role in civic education and educating the public on FOIA and their rights around access to information. 

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero what message he has for the more than 5,000 FOIA professionals working across government. 

Mr. Ferriero thanked them for their work despite many challenges and stated that new technological tools need to be developed to ensure that records are made available. He also urged FOIA professionals to build partnerships in their agencies with legal counsel, IT professionals and the inspector general.

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero what message he has for FOIA requesters.

Mr. Ferriero stated he urged requesters to be specific in their requests,  to learn the FOIA process, and to not get caught up in unrealistic expectations. 

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero what he is going to miss most about being Archivist of the United States. 

Mr. Ferriero stated he is going to miss the excitement of working with the National Archives staff of 2,700 people at 40 facilities to make access to records more efficient. 

Ms. Semo asked Mr. Ferriero his plans after he retires. 

Mr. Ferriero stated that he is not planning to run for office but will look for ways that he can be helpful. 

Ms. Semo thanked Mr. Ferriero for his work and support of the FOIA Advisory Committee and stated that they will miss his leadership. 

Ms. Semo stated that the Committee’s Designated Federal Official (DFO), Kirsten Mitchell, was unable to join the meeting and the Archivist appointed OGIS Deputy Director Martha Murphy, as the alternate DFO. Ms. Murphy confirmed there was a quorum for the meeting. 

Ms. Semo stated that Committee members Dione Sterns and A.Jay Wagner were unable to attend the meeting, and that James Stocker would briefly step away from the meeting around noon. She also noted that OGIS had posted written comments on the website in advance of the meeting. Ms. Semo stated that public comments should be emailed to and not submitted via the YouTube or Webex chat function. 

Ms. Semo asked committee members to identify themselves prior to speaking. She stated that they did not have meeting minutes to approve and that a transcript of the March 10th meeting will be posted on their website as soon as it is available. 

Ms. Semo noted that any member of the Committee can move to vote on any recommendation and does not need to be seconded, although past practice has included a second for every motion. She stated that motions can be passed by unanimous decision, general consensus, or general majority. In the event of a tie, the Committee will reopen discussion and revote until there is a majority.  

Discussion of Technology Subcommittee Draft Recommendations - Allyson Deitrick and Jason Gart, Technology Subcommittee Co-Chairs 

Ms. Deitrick stated that the Subcommittee made changes to recommendation two after conversations at the last meeting. She stated that the Subcommittee decided to recommend that the Chief FOIA Officers Council establish a working group on metadata. She further stated that the Subcommittee recommends looking at the following metadata fields: identifier, file name, record ID, title, description, creation date, and rights and restrictions for each file. 

Ms. Deitrick asked if the Committee would prefer to discuss recommendation two or three first. 

Mr. Stocker stated that the Subcommittee is recommending seven metadata elements and asked how the recommendation differs from NARA Bulletin 2015-04.

Ms. Deitrick stated that the recommendation includes the same seven fields and explained that the recommendation was a way to keep the conversation moving forward. 

Mr. Stocker thanked Ms. Deitrick for the clarification and asked what issue recommendation two was seeking to address. 

Ms. Deitrick stated that the challenge was that many agencies do not have the technological ability to release the metadata and that there were ongoing concerns from the intelligence community about releasing metadata. 

Mr. Gart affirmed that the file elements align with NARA Bulletin 2015-04 because the bulletin was created to ensure that records accessioned into the National Archives include metadata. He stated that the recommendation was designed to release the same metadata elements to the requestor community. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if records that are transferred to the National Archives and that are publicly available include metadata.   

Mr. Gart stated that electronic records from the National Archives that are made publicly available include metadata and provided the example of punch cards. 

Action Item: David Cuillier moved to vote on Technology Subcommittee draft recommendation two. Kel McClanahan seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Alina Semo and Bobby Talebian abstaining. 

Mr. Gart stated that the third recommendation is that the Chief FOIA Officers Council study and recommend resolutions to conflicts between FOIA’s proactive disclosure requirements and  508 compliance. 

Mr. Talebian suggested rewording the recommendation to not imply that there is a conflict between proactive disclosures and section 508 compliance.

Ms. Semo suggested “inherent challenges” instead of conflicts. 

Mr. Talebian agreed with Ms. Semo’s rewording. 

Ms. Deitrick and Mr. Andoh supported the suggested edit to recommendation three. 

Action Item: Jason Gart moved to vote on Technology Subcommittee draft recommendation three with word change from “conflict” to “ inherent challenges.” Roger Andoh seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Bobby Talebian abstaining. 

Mr. Gart stated the next recommendation is to make FOIA logs full-text searchable and for agencies to proactively publish FOIA logs online each quarter.

Mr. Stocker asked if the portion of the recommendation that allows agencies with fewer than 50 requests per year to publish FOIA logs annually makes that recommendation unnecessarily complicated. 

Ms. Deitrick stated that the recommendation was drafted to be consistent with OIP’s guidance on websites. 

Ms. Ellis stated that it may not benefit agencies or requesters to mandate that all agencies post their FOIA logs quarterly. 

Mr. McClanahan noted that there was a discrepancy between the draft recommendation on the screen and in the draft document and asked which version the committee was voting on. He further asked if the recommendation was designed to be a best practice or requirement for agencies. 

Ms. Deitrick stated that she understood the recommendation as a best practice but would not require agencies to proactively release FOIA logs. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if there was a reason they drafted the recommendation as a best practice. 

Mr. Talebian asked if Mr. McClanahan was asking if the original recommendation was a best practice also. 

Mr. Gart stated that the original recommendation was a best practice designed for consistency and for FOIA logs to contain minimum data in Excel format. 

Mr. Talebian stated he did not recall the discussion when drafting the prior recommendation regarding searching. 

Mr. Gart asked Ms. Deitrick if the search capability was from the prior recommendation. 

Ms. Deitrick noted she was consulting the old recommendations. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that there were members of the Subcommittee that supported a requirement for agencies to post their FOIA logs and make them searchable but recognized that there may be budgetary or technical limitations to implementing the recommendation. 

Ms. Weth suggested that the recommendation be drafted to add that if agencies have the technology available, they should allow for full text searching of FOIA logs.

Mr. Samahon suggested that the recommendation be rewritten starting with the word “unless.”

Ms. Semo asked if Mr. Gart would like to rework the recommendation to incorporate the Committee’s comments and present again at next month’s meeting. 

Mr. Gart stated that the intent of the recommendation was to bring it to the forefront again and provide an expiration date for implementation but would be happy to tweak the language. 

Mr. Andoh suggested that the Committee bring the recommendation to a vote and asked Mr. Talebian if could be a centralized location for FOIA logs. 

Ms. Deitrick stated that she found the original recommendation from the 2016-2018 term and affirmed that they were presented as a best practice and to publish the logs monthly unless the agency received fewer than 100 requests per year. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that he did not agree with Mr. Andoh on a vote and wanted the Committee to consider requiring agencies to proactively publish FOIA logs. He stated that the previous recommendation as a best practice did not encourage agencies to publish FOIA logs. 

Mr. Talebian stated that they had encouraged agencies to publish their FOIA logs and that more flexibility for agencies would provide a better return. He also noted that recently submitted an RFI [request for information]  for a guided-search feature but was in its early stages. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that he did not see his suggestion as reducing flexibility since items in the list of FOIA log information  would still be written as a best practice but as it is currently written would give agencies the option of not complying. 

Mr. Talebian agreed with Mr. McClanahan but noted that agencies should have flexibility, especially those with fewer  than 50 requests. 

Mr. Blutstein asked if the disposition of the request was omitted or if it is covered under item G. 

Ms. Deitrick stated that disposition was removed from the list since it would not necessarily have a result within the log’s timeframe. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that disposition should be included if closed. 

Ms. Frye asked if under the FOIA Improvement Act [of 2016] agencies were required to post their raw data or if FOIA logs were considered separate. 

Mr. Talebian stated that the primary difference between the raw data and a FOIA log was the inclusion of the subject of the request. 

Mr. Gart stated that requesters often review FOIA logs to determine what has been previously released and will request a copy of that material. 

Mr. McClanahan noted that he will have clients review FOIA logs to see if someone has previously requested records and received no records. He stated that the logs prevent requesters from making duplicate requests taking up requester and agency time and resources. 

Ms. Frye thanked everyone for the clarification. 

Ms. Semo asked if Mr. Gart and Ms. Allyson would like to vote on the spirit of the recommendation now or wait until the next meeting. 

Mr. Gart asked if they could proceed with a vote. 

Mr. Cuillier asked if the Committee could vote on the spirit of the recommendation and re-word and vote at the next meeting. 

Ms. Semo answered in the affirmative. 

Mr. Stocker asked if the Subcommittee could include the original recommendations along with the revised wording to make it easier to see the changes. 

Action Item: Roger Andoh moved to vote on Technology Subcommittee draft recommendation three in spirit. Jason Gart seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Bobby Talebian abstaining. 

Ms. Semo thanked the members of the Technology Subcommittee for their work and turned the meeting over to Ms. Graves and Mr. Morisy of the Process Subcommittee.   

Discussion of Process Subcommittee Draft Recommendations - Alexis Graves and Michael Morisy, Process Subcommittee Co-Chairs

Ms. Graves introduced Thomas Susman to present the draft recommendations on first-party requests. 

Mr. Susman stated that the work of former advisory Committee member Margaret Kwoka encouraged the Subcommittee to look into first-party requests across government. He noted that prior Advisory Committee work on the issue recommended that OGIS and OIP provide guidance to agencies to identify common first-party requests and develop efficient approaches to processing requests. He stated that there are examples of agencies that have developed portals for processing first-party requests that do not require a FOIA request. Mr. Susman mentioned Attorney General Garland’s March 15, 2022, memorandum regarding removing barriers to access and reducing FOIA backlogs. The memo noted that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) was moving toward no longer requiring a FOIA request to access EOIR court proceedings. He noted that changing how agencies process first-party requests will require additional technology and training. 

Mr. Stocker thanked the Subcommittee for their work in developing the recommendations and noted he had a question about recommendation four to ask at the appropriate time. 

Action Item: Alexandra Perloff-Giles moved to vote on Process Subcommittee draft recommendation one. Jason Gart seconded. Motion carried by majority vote with Allan Blutstein and Kristin Ellis voting no and Bobby Talebian abstaining. 

Mr. Susman stated that during the Subcommittee’s research it was discovered that immigration proceedings were available to attorneys, but [non-represented/pro se] individuals had to submit FOIA requests to access the same records. He stated that the Subcommittee recommended that agencies proactively disclose proceedings to pro se parties who are not represented by an attorney. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if this recommendation applied only to EOIR or other agencies as well. 

Mr. Susman stated that the Subcommittee did not conduct a government-wide review of first-party requests and did not think there was any harm in leaving the language vague in the recommendation. 

Mr. McClanahan recommended that they revise the wording of “adversely impacting” to equal process in the recommendation. 

Mr. Susman agreed with Mr. McClanahan’s suggestion but asked to hear from other members of the Committee. 

Ms. Ellis stated that she agreed with Mr. McClanahan’s revision but did not think there was an issue with pro se requesters accessing records since a lot of them are generally sophisticated requesters. 

Mr. Samahon noted that EOIR developed a FOIA alternative, ECAS [EOIR Courts and Appeals System], that provides access to immigration proceedings but ECAS was not available to pro se parties. He agreed that the recommendation was generalizable to all government agencies. He stated that EOIR may soon change their policy which implied that pro se requesters were not necessarily as sophisticated as asserted by Ms. Ellis. 

Ms. Ellis stated that she did not agree with Mr. Samahon and did not want to see different castes of FOIA requesters. 

Mr. Samahon stated that EOIR created the distinction, not FOIA, and noted that agencies should be mindful of creating these distinctions between represented and pro se parties. 

Mr. Talebian stated that EOIR has already changed their policy on this issue and agreed that there should be equal access to records for both parties. 

Ms. Perloff-Giles agreed with Ms. Ellis that creating a pro se designation is confusing and asked if the Committee could reword the recommendation to specify that it apply to pro se parties in legal proceedings and not to FOIA requests generally. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that he agreed with the statements of Ms. Perloff-Giles and Ms. Ellis, and the recommendation as a best practice for agencies setting up a portal system. 

Mr. Susman suggested rewording the recommendation to read, "To the extent feasible, agencies should amend any existing regulations, directives, policies, and guidance to provide equal access to records for pro se parties."

Mr. McClanahan suggested replacing pro se with represented and unrepresented. 

Mr. Susman and Ms. Semo noted Mr. McClanahan’s revision. 

Mr. Susman noted that the revision would include Ms. Perloff-Giles’ suggestion that the recommendation apply to legal proceedings and not FOIA requests. 

Ms. Semo asked if the committee was keeping the wording parties and not requesters. 

Mr. McClanahan suggested individuals or persons. 

Ms. Graves agreed with Mr. McClanahan’s revision. 

Mr. Morisy asked if the recommendation should include existing or proposed regulations, and suggested that proposed is forward-looking.. 

Mr. Gart and Mr. Samahon both agreed with Mr. Morisy’s suggestion revision. 

Ms. Ellis asked to reread the revised recommendation. 

Mr. Susman stated that Mr. Morisy’s suggested revision would not work since one does not amend proposed regulations. 

Ms. Murphy typed the proposed revision into the chat and read the recommendation. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if the phrase “extent feasible” was necessary. 

Mr. Susman stated that “extent feasible” was included because the Subcommittee did not review every agency’s current and potential practices. 

Ms. Semo asked if the Committee could proceed with a vote on the spirit of the recommendation. 

Action Item: Tuan Samahon moved to vote on the spirit of Process Subcommittee draft recommendation two. Jason Gart seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Allan Blutstein and Bobby Talebian abstaining.

Mr. Susman stated that recommendation three asks agencies to develop a technology plan that promotes efficiency and customer service. 

Action Item: David Cuillier moved to vote on Process Subcommittee draft recommendation three. Roger Andoh seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Bobby Talebian abstaining.

The Committee took a 15-minute break. 

Mr. Susman stated that recommendation four concerns Alien files (A-files) for which the bulk of first-person FOIA requests are made. He noted that due to the variety of records from various agencies contained in A-files, it is difficult to develop recommendations to streamline first-person access to the records. Recommendation four suggests that Congress initiate an assessment of A-files and first-person requests. 

Mr. Blutstein asked which entity would pay for the assessment. 

Mr. Susman stated that the preference of the Subcommittee is for Congress to direct and pay for the study or appropriate funding to the agency to conduct the study. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if the study would include an assessment of staffing as well as processes and technology. 

Mr. Susman stated that the recommendation would include the training of staff and establishing a new system that could segregate public from non-public information. 

Mr. McClanahan asked if the study would be conducted by a non-governmental entity or just an entity outside the executive branch like the GAO [Government Accountability Office] or CBO {Congressional Budget Office]. 

Mr. Susman stated that the CBO would not perform the assessment and was not sure if GAO would have the expertise to conduct the assessment. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that CBO and GAO conduct studies such as audits of technology programs. 

Mr. Susman stated that the purpose of the recommendation was not to dictate how the study is conducted but to encourage an assessment by a non-governmental entity with expertise in this area. 

Mr. McClanahan stated the recommendation should be revised to “non-executive branch” instead of “non-governmental.”

Mr. Susman stated he did not want to micromanage the study. 

Mr. Stocker asked what the Subcommittee meant by non-governmental entity and suggested that his question may have been answered. 

Mr. Gart asked if Mr. Susman had a cost estimate for the proposed assessment. 

Mr. Susman stated that there are 70 million A-files in existence and increasing each year and did not know how much the study would cost. 

Mr. Samahon stated that there are a variety of records in A-files and the purpose of this assessment was to determine the feasibility of segregating records that would streamline the request process and hopefully provide cost savings to the agency. 

Mr. Gart asked if these records would be born-digital records.

Ms. Semo stated she was not sure. 

Mr. Susman stated that their discussion with DHS revealed that paper records were maintained for a historic reason. 

Mr. Gart asked if DHS did not have to meet the electronic records requirement. 

Ms. Semo said she was unsure but would speak with someone and get back to him. 

Ms. Graves stated that the December 2022 deadline for the government to transition to electronic records was approaching, and that most agencies were not going to meet the requirements due to teleworking the past two years. 

Mr. Gart stated that at some point the records would all be born digital which would ease release of information. 

Ms. Weth asked if the Subcommittee spoke with DHS about the assessment. 

Mr. Susman stated that the Subcommittee had fruitful discussions with DHS and circulated a draft report for comments. He stated that DHS had no immediate plans to institute major changes. He further noted that the transition to born digital systems does not necessarily mean electronic record systems are meshed with FOIA requirements. 

Ms. Weth stated that she had pulled out past recommendations from the Committee in order to institute best practices at the EPA, and that DHS might consider doing the same. 

Action Item: Matt Schwarz moved to vote on Process Subcommittee draft recommendation four. Roger Andoh seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote with Bobby Talebian and Alina M. Semo abstaining.

Discussion of Legislation Subcommittee Draft Recommendations - Patricia Weth and Kel McClanahan, Legislation Subcommittee Co-Chairs

Ms. Weth called on David Cuillier, head of the Reimagining OGIS Working Group, to discuss the Subcommittee’s draft recommendations. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that the Subcommittee had been working to build upon the recommendation of the previous term to “"strengthen the Office of Government Information Services with clear authority and expanded resources." He further noted that the Subcommittee’s recommendations were not a criticism of OGIS, the Archivist, or Congress but a path forward to make the system work better and save agencies and requesters time and money. The first recommendation is for Congress to give OGIS the authority to make binding decisions. 

Ms. Ellis asked if OGIS would become involved after the initial agency’s processing or after legal proceedings. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that it is clearly outlined in the report and that the courts are still the final arbiter in decisions. 

Ms. Ellis asked if the agency would sue OGIS or sue the requester over an OGIS decision. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that their intention was not to have agencies sue requesters or OGIS but it is something that needs to be worked out. 

Mr. Schwarz thanked the Subcommittee for their work and Ms. Ellis for her questions. He stated that OGIS would need to be expanded to process decisions within the 20-day timeframe and asked if the 20-day requirement would need to be amended. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that was the reason for recommendation six regarding additional study. 

Mr. Stocker agreed that OGIS would need to be expanded and added that cases are currently brought to court costing both parties. He noted that if OGIS was able to make binding decisions, requesters may not have to hire an attorney to challenge agency decisions. He stated a feasibility study comparing state and international examples would be helpful. 

Mr. Cuillier thanked Mr. Stocker for his comment and agreed that the current system required requesters to file suit in court creating a backlog and costing money. He noted that the recommendation was designed to settle disagreements between requesters and agencies quickly and less expensively. 

Mr. McClanahan noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s mandatory mediation policy was a good idea in theory but provided no incentive for agencies or the DOJ to participate or compromise. 

Mr. Gart stated that his experience differed from Mr. McClanahan’s with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals which he noted has successfully provided mediation for 50 years between defense contractors and the government. 

Mr. Cuillier noted that the report acknowledges on page 16 that any study needs to investigate pre-existing models within the federal government such as the U.S. Copyright Office’s small claims court (the Copyright Claims Board.). 

Ms. Deitrick asked if mediation would be required or optional for requesters. 

Mr. Cuillier stated that OGIS would have two divisions – mediation and adjudication – providing two options for requesters to choose from. 

Action Item: Jason Gart moved to vote on Legislation Subcommittee draft recommendation one. David Cuillier seconded. Motion carried by general majority vote with Allyson Deitrick, Kristin Ellis, and Matt Schwarz voting no, and Bobby Talebian, Alina Semo, and Allan Blutstein abstaining.

Mr. Cuillier stated that recommendation two is that Congress give OGIS the authority to review records in camera. He noted that other state and international mediation entities are provided similar authority, and that OGIS needs the ability to review records to make binding decisions regarding exemption use. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that mediators are not required to be neutral, need to be able to tell a party that they are wrong about a particular issue, and noted that magistrate judges often take sides during disputes. 

Ms. Ellis stated that national security groups will have concerns about OGIS having in camera access to classified records.  

Mr. Schwarz asked if it was possible to reword the recommendation to give OGIS in camera review authority except for national security or law enforcement records. 

Mr. Cuillier noted that the Subcommittee had not considered that and asked if other Committee members had thoughts. 

Ms. Weth agreed and asked if Mr. Schwartz could restate his suggestion.

Mr. Schwarz restated his suggestion to exempt national security and law enforcement records from OGIS review. 

Mr. Cuillier stated he was opposed to the proposed exemption and noted if anyone needs oversight it was the Intelligence Community. 

Mr. McClanahan stated that he would push back against the proposed exemption since in camera review is important to encourage parties to go to OGIS instead of court. 

Ms. Semo thanked Mr. McClanahan for his comment and suggested that the Committee return to the Subcommittee’s recommendations at the next meeting in May.   

Public comments

Jessica Hartman of OGIS read aloud public comments received via chat, the first of which asked the Committee to consider in its next term  reviewing whether OGISor OIP should be able to make referrals to the Office of the Special Counsel to deter egregious behavior, ensure adequate funding and authority for OIP to carry out its oversight mission, and require agencies to amend past reports with false reporting.  

Mr. Talebian stated that OIP takes the accuracy of reports seriously and includes footnotes to explain discrepancies in reports. 

The event producer then moved to the phone lines. Robert Hammond stated that the DOD is not reporting its raw data from 2016-2017 and every year agencies add footnotes correcting their reports. He asked that the reports be amended, not with a footnote, and reposted. He mentioned his FOIA request and appeal of Walter Reed’s FY 2013 annual FOIA report. 

Ms. Semo adjourned the meeting. 

I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete on June 30, 2022. 


/s/ Kirsten B. Mitchell 

Kirsten B. Mitchell

Designated Federal Officer,

2020-2022 Term


/s/ Alina M. Semo 

Alina M. Semo


2020-2022 Term