The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) established the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee in 2014 to foster dialog between the Administration and the requester community, solicit public comments, and develop consensus recommendations for improving FOIA administration and proactive disclosures. The Archivist of the United States renewed the Committee's two-year charter in 2022.
The Federal FOIA Advisory Committee reports to the Archivist of the United States. The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) serves as the chair of the Committee, and OGIS staff provides administrative and logistical support.
The 2022-2024 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee created the following three subcommittees to support the Committee's functions:
David Cuillier, University of Florida, and Catrina Pavlik-Keenan, Department of Homeland Security
Jason R. Baron, University of Maryland, and Gorka Garcia-Malene, Department of Health and Human Services
Paul Chalmers, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and Gbemende Johnson, University of Georgia
Each subcommittee has a government co-chair and a non-government co-chair. All subcommittees will report their work and findings to the Committee for deliberation.
2022-2024 Term Meeting Schedule*
- Thursday, September 8, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Thursday, December 1, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Thursday, March 2, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Thursday, December 7, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. ET (Meeting Materials and Information)
- Tuesday, March 5, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. ET
- Thursday, April 4, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. ET
- Thursday, May 9, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. ET
- Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. ET
*All 2022-2024 FOIA Advisory Committee meetings are scheduled to occur virtually. Meeting information will be made available in advance of each meeting on this webpage and through several formats including the FOIA Ombudsmans blog, the National Archives Calendar, and the Federal Register.
- Paul Chalmers – Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- Carmen A. Collins – U.S. Department of Defense
- Allyson Deitrick – U.S. Department of Commerce
- Gorka Garcia-Malene – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Michael Heise - U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Stefanie Jewett – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General
- Catrina Pavlik-Keenan - U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Alina M. Semo – Chair, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Government Information Services
- Bobak Talebian - U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy
- Patricia Weth – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Jason R. Baron – University of Maryland
- David Cuillier – University of Florida
- Lauren Harper - National Security Archive
- Alexander Howard – Digital Democracy Project
- Gbemende Johnson – University of Georgia
- Adam Marshall – Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Luke Nichter – Chapman University
- Thomas Susman – American Bar Association
- Eira Tansey – Memory Rising
- Benjamin Tingo – OPEXUS
Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall appointed 20 members to the FOIA Advisory Committee in August 2022. The Committee consists of 10 members from within the Federal government and 10 non-governmental members who have considerable FOIA expertise and who were selected to achieve a balanced representation. Committee members are appointed to serve a two-year term. Alina M. Semo, OGIS Director, is the Committee Chair.
Jason R. Baron
Jason R. Baron is a Professor of the Practice focusing on the intersection of law, archives, and information retrieval at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies. He is an internationally recognized speaker and author on the preservation of electronic documents and has written, lectured, and performed research on integrating best practices in e-discovery searches into the FOIA realm. Mr. Baron served as Director of Litigation for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and as a trial lawyer and senior counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In those roles, Mr. Baron helped drive the government’s adoption of electronic recordkeeping practices and defended the government’s interests in complex federal court litigation, including in lawsuits involving White House email records. As NARA’s Director of Litigation, he supervised NARA’s FOIA Officer and Deputy Officer, prepared and reviewed FOIA appeals for signature by the Deputy Archivist, and actively worked with the DOJ on FOIA litigation. Mr. Baron holds a BA from Wesleyan University and a JD from Boston University School of Law. (Member 2018-2020 term)
Paul Chalmers is the Deputy General Counsel for General Law and Operations at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and has been with the corporation for 10 years. He also serves as PBGC’s Chief Disclosure Officer and oversees the Disclosure Division, which processes PBGC’s FOIA and Privacy Act requests. In this capacity, Mr. Chalmers cultivates compliance to the FOIA modeling and encourages compliance at every level of the corporation. Between 2019 to 2022, under his leadership, the number of FOIA requests that PBGC receives and processes grew nearly 70 percent; despite this growth, PBGC has completed each fiscal year with no backlog and a median processing time of 13 working days—well below the statutory time limit. Mr. Chalmers was an early advocate for strengthening performance management and modernization of the technologies used to search for, de-duplicate, redact, and label records. By also serving as PBGC’s Designated Agency Ethics Official and Senior Agency Official for Privacy, his efforts have brought attention to the interface between these programs and PBGC’s transparency goals. Mr. Chalmers has a JD from the University of Chicago Law School and a BA from Hampden-Sydney College. Before joining PBGC, Mr. Chalmers handled complex litigation matters with several large national law firms.
Carmen A. Collins
Carmen A. Collins is the FOIA/Privacy Act (PA) Program Manager at the U.S. Cyber Command (USCC). Ms. Collins has 11 years of experience in FOIA, PA, Archives, Data Science, Records Management, and Information Management. Before joining USCC, she worked as a government contractor for the National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Air Force Cyber Command, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. In her current role at USCC, she leads the effort to establish or revise policy/guidelines to comply with relevant statutes/regulations/guidelines, create non-FOIA staff training products, reduce the FOIA case backlog, update the USCC FOIA Reading Room, provide FOIA case analytics, and FOIA lead information technology initiatives for process improvement. Ms. Collins holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science specializing in Archives and Digital Curation from the University of Maryland College of Information Studies. She is an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar (2017), 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference Graduate School Archival Education Scholarship Winner, and a published author. She holds a BS in Legal Studies from the University of Maryland.
David Cuillier is Director of the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the University of Florida. He previously taught and researched freedom of information at the University Arizona School of Journalism, from 2006 until 2023. A former newspaper reporter and editor in the Pacific Northwest, he is founding editor of the open-access peer-reviewed Journal of Civic Information, and co-author of the books The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records, and Transparency 2.0: Digital Data and Privacy in a Wired World. Dr. Cuillier is the former president and freedom of information chair of the Society of Professional Journalists; former board president for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, and writes the “FOI Files” column for The IRE Journal, the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ magazine. He has testified three times before Congress regarding FOIA and served on the 2020-2022 term of the federal FOIA Advisory Committee. He holds a PhD and an MA in Communication from Washington State University and a BA in Journalism from Western Washington University. (Member 2020-2022 term)
Allyson Deitrick is the Chief of the Information Law Division at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Her office oversees the department’s administrative appeals of FOIA and Privacy Act requests, as well as matters related to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Trade Secrets Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, and records management. Ms. Deitrick is also involved with the department’s Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program. Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, she was in private practice, focusing on the privilege aspects of large-scale eDiscovery. Ms. Deitrick holds a JD from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America and a BA from Muhlenberg College. (Member 2020-2022 term)
Gorka Garcia-Malene directs the FOIA program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Concurrently, he serves on the Chief FOIA Officers Council Technology Subcommittee, which studies the deployment and use of technology in FOIA programs across the executive branch to identify best practices and develop technology-based recommendations to the FOIA community. Mr. Garcia-Malene began his career in the litigation department of a major law firm. He then joined the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) FOIA program at Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where he specialized in FOIA litigation. Mr. Garcia-Malene went on to assume the role of FOIA Officer at FDA’s Office of International Programs, where he also managed the agency’s relationship with the government of Canada, and headed the FDA’s efforts to establish information-sharing frameworks and memorandums of understanding with the agency’s foreign regulator counterparts. Before joining NIH, Mr. Garcia-Malene served as FOIA Officer at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. He is a registered patent attorney, and is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.
Lauren Harper is Director of Public Policy at the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research and archival institution located on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. She develops the Archive’s public policy and legislative positions on transparency and national security classification issues, maintains key relationships within the federal government and open government community, and serves as one of the organization’s chief public spokespersons on access to information and secrecy issues. Ms. Harper headed the Archive’s Afghanistan Documentation Project, in which she supervised the filing of hundreds of successful FOIA requests with agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the Defense Department, on the US war in Afghanistan. Those requests resulted in the declassification of nearly 15,000 pages of documents, which were recently published as a collection, The Afghanistan War and the United States, 1998-2017, through the Digital National Security Archive and the scholarly publisher ProQuest. Ms. Harper holds a BA in international relations from Scripps College, and an MA in Middle Eastern studies and an MPP in public policy analysis from the University of Chicago.
Michael L. Heise
Michael L. Heise is Assistant Legal Counsel and FOIA Public Liaison for the FOIA Division in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He previously served as EEOC’s Senior Attorney Advisor for Technology in OLC’s FOIA Division. Prior to that, he was a contract FOIA attorney at the U.S. Department of Energy. As Assistant Legal Counsel for the FOIA Division, Mr. Heise assists EEOC’s Chief FOIA Officer in developing FOIA policies and procedures, provides advice to the Commission chair concerning FOIA-related issues, assists in training the Office of Field Programs and other EEOC offices on the FOIA, and directly supervises FOIA Division staff. Mr. Heise has a JD from Hamline Law School and a BA from Macalester College.
Alexander B. Howard
Alexander B. Howard is a writer, digital governance expert, and open government advocate based in Washington, DC. He is the director of the Digital Democracy Project, where he helps governments and other institutions to strengthen and improve democratic integrity using civic technologies. Previously, Mr. Howard was the deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, where he helped lead the nonpartisan nonprofits during the presidential transition and the beginning of the Trump administration. He has worked in coalitions to modernize and strengthen freedom of information laws in cities, states and nations around the world, including the successful passage of the FOIA Improvement Act in 2016 and the OPEN Government Data Act in 2018. He helped draft the Honest Ads Act, which would mandate online political ads be more transparent. Mr. Howard began his work at Sunlight as a senior analyst, where he led its federal transparency work. Before joining Sunlight, Mr. Howard was the first senior editor for technology and society at the Huffington Post. Previously, he was the Washington correspondent for Radar at O’Reilly Media. He was a columnist at TechRepublic and a contributor to TechPresident, Science Magazine, MIT’s Tech Review, WIRED, the National Journal, PBS Mediashift, The Daily Beast, NextGov, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Slate, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, CBS News, and the Association for Computer Manufacturing. Mr. Howard graduated from Colby College. He has held fellowships at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia and the Ash Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Stefanie Jewett serves as the FOIA Director for the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She previously served as Deputy General Counsel to the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI OIG), where she directed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act (PA), and Records Management programs, overseeing all DOI OIG FOIA requests, appeals, and litigation. In 2020, Ms. Jewett was selected as co-chair of the FOIA Working Group of the Council of Counsels to the Inspectors General. In this role she holds quarterly meetings with representatives from each of the OIG FOIA offices and is regularly consulted as a subject matter expert on FOIA issues from throughout the OIG community. Prior to her position with the DOI OIG, Ms. Jewett was a senior attorney with the FOIA Appeals Unit within the Office of the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor. She handled and processed hundreds of complex FOIA and PA Appeals for all components of the department, worked directly with FOIA requesters to narrow and streamline requests, and advised senior counsel on sensitive and compound FOIA and PA issues. Ms. Jewett has a BS in business management, as well as a JD from Albany Law School.
Gbemende Johnson is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia. She also serves as a member of the Midwest Political Science Association Executive Council, and is an incoming member of the American Political Science Association Presidents & Executive Politics Section Executive Committee. She was previously an Associate Professor of Government at Hamilton College where she received the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award. Her research interests include government transparency and litigation involving state and federal branch actors. Her interests in this area stretch back to her work as a graduate student research assistant filing and tracking FOIA requests to agencies across the federal executive branch. She also conducts research on judicial diversity. She has written multiple articles on the administration of FOIA and FOIA litigation, with much of her research incorporating quantitative analysis into the examination of government transparency. In 2021, she was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to examine FOIA litigation in federal court (along with Tracey George, Vanderbilt University). She also previously served as an American Political Science Association Pracademic Fellow within the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) where she worked to assist FOIA requesters. Dr. Johnson received her PhD and MA from Vanderbilt University, and a BA from Georgia State University.
Adam A. Marshall
Adam A. Marshall is a senior staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. His work includes litigation under the Freedom of Information Act and state public records laws, as well as writing friend-of-the-court briefs and training journalists on government transparency. Adam is the co-author of chapters in Troubling Transparency (Columbia University Press, 2018), and COVID-19: The Legal Challenges (Carolina Academic Press, 2021). His other writings include Access to Public Records and the Role of the News Media in Providing Information About COVID-19 (Journal of National Security Law & Policy, 2020) and Prioritizing the Public's Right to Know in a Pandemic (Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, 2022). In 2017, he was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30: Media” list for his work promoting government transparency, including the development of the FOIA Wiki. Adam holds a JD from George Washington University Law School and a BA from Kalamazoo College. He also studied at the London School of Economics.
Luke A. Nichter
Luke A. Nichter is a Professor of History and James H. Cavanaugh Endowed Chair in Presidential Studies at Chapman University. He is a noted expert on Richard Nixon's 3,432 hours of secret White House tapes and has written a history of White House taping systems, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 through Richard Nixon in 1973, for the White House Historical Association. Mr. Nichter has written or edited seven New York Times bestselling books, including Richard Nixon and Europe: The Reshaping of the Postwar Atlantic World; The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War; and his next book is tentatively titled The Making of the President, 1968: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and the Election that Changed America, and will be published in the fall of 2023. He is the co-editor, with Douglas Brinkley, of The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 and The Nixon Tapes: 1973. Mr. Nichter is a former founding Executive Producer of C-SPAN's American History TV, a presidential appointee on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and makes regular research visits to NARA facilities. He has filed over 2,000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the purpose of opening historically important records to public access, and his petitions before Judge Royce Lamberth of the District Court for the District of Columbia unsealed thousands of pages of Watergate-era records. Mr. Nichter earned his Ph.D. in History from Bowling Green State University.
Catrina Pavlik-Keenan has served as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer since July 2021. She advises the Chief Privacy Officer and other senior leaders on the effective administration of FOIA. In this role, she utilizes her extensive FOIA expertise to advance the strategic development and oversight of FOIA across DHS. Previously, she was the Acting Deputy Assistant Director for Information Governance and Privacy at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where her portfolio included privacy, FOIA, records and data management, and information governance. Ms. Pavlik-Keenan is a pioneer in implementing new processes while utilizing advanced technologies to develop ways of handling information as it relates to all aspects of the FOIA and Privacy Act. With over 28 years of experience in FOIA, she is considered an authority on FOIA-related matters, and works closely with senior leaders to advance the DHS. From December 2006 to June 2013, Ms. Pavlik-Keenan managed two FOIA offices as the FOIA Officer for ICE. Prior to that appointment, Ms. Pavlik-Keenan served as the Transportation Security Administration’s FOIA Director, where she was instrumental in establishing TSA’s FOIA Office. Ms. Pavlik-Keenan also served for 12 years with the Department of Transportation, where she began her FOIA career.
Alina M. Semo
Alina M. Semo is the Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman’s office, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Prior to joining OGIS, Ms. Semo served as the Director of Litigation in NARA's Office of General Counsel for two and a half years. Before coming to NARA, Ms. Semo led the FOIA Litigation Unit in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for more than 10 years, and also served as an Assistant General Counsel in the FBI’s Litigation Branch for nearly five years. Ms. Semo began her federal government career as a Department of Justice trial attorney and later senior counsel in the Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, from 1991 to 1999, and from 1988 to 1991 worked as an associate at Hopkins & Sutter in Washington, D.C. Ms. Semo holds a BA degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and a JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center; she is licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland. (Member 2016-2018, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022 terms)
Thomas Susman is Strategic Advisor, Governmental Affairs and Global Programs, at the American Bar Association (ABA). He joined the ABA in 2008 after 27 years as a partner in the law firm of Ropes & Gray. Previously, he was Chief Counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure and held other government positions. Mr. Susman’s involvement with FOIA began when, as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1968, he advised federal agencies regarding the new law. In his Senate position, he was the principal staff lawyer for the enactment of the 1974 FOIA Amendments. At Ropes & Gray, he handled many FOIA-related litigations and regulatory matters, including the work that resulted in the issuance of President Reagan's Executive Order requiring agencies to give notice to submitters before releasing confidential business information. At the ABA, he has continued his leading role in addressing FOIA matters. He is Founding President and a Board Member of the D.C. Open Government Coalition; on the Board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition; on the Steering Committee of OpenTheGovernment and has served on many other relevant boards. He has often testified, addressed conferences and taught on FOIA and related subjects. Mr. Susman holds a BA from Yale University and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law. (Member of the 2016-2018, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022 terms)
Bobak Talebian began serving as the Director of the Office of Information Policy (OIP) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2020. OIP is responsible for developing policy guidance for Executive Branch agencies on the FOIA, providing legal counsel and training to agency personnel on the procedural and substantive aspects of the Act, and for encouraging agency compliance with the law. OIP also manages DOJ’s obligations under the FOIA. This includes adjudicating administrative appeals from denials of access to records made by DOJ components under the FOIA or the Privacy Act of 1974; handling initial requests for records of the Offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Associate Attorney General, as well as other Senior Management Offices; providing staff support for the Department Review Committee, which reviews DOJ records containing classified information; and handling the defense of certain FOIA matters in litigation. Before becoming Director, Mr. Talebian served as Acting Director and Acting Chief of Staff of OIP. Prior to these roles, Mr. Talebian served as the first Chief of OIP's FOIA Compliance Staff. During his tenure as Chief of OIP’s FOIA Compliance Staff, Mr. Talebian’s team led a number of government-wide initiatives that improved agencies’ FOIA administration, including the development of policy guidance, new reporting guidelines, FOIA training and assessment resources, and the launch of the National FOIA Portal on FOIA.gov. Mr. Talebian is a graduate of Kenyon College and the University of Tennessee College of Law where he served on Law Review. (Member of the 2018-2020 and 2020-2022 terms)
Eira Tansey is the founder and manager of Memory Rising, which provides research, consulting and archival services for cultural, humanities and other organizations. She has worked as a professional archivist for 14 years, most recently at the University of Cincinnati as Digital Archivist/Records Manager. Ms. Tansey has experience developing records retention and policy for a large public university and preserving born-digital archives. Over the last 10 years, she has held a variety of elected and appointed volunteer positions within the Society of American Archivists (SAA), most recently completing a three-year term with SAA’s Committee on Public Policy. She coordinated an effort to write the first public policy recommendation related to the legal status of judiciary records, which was subsequently adopted as SAA’s official public policy position on judiciary records. Between 2014-2019, Ms. Tansey was active in SAA’s Records Management Section leadership. In this role, she oversaw a blog, educational webinars, and annual meetings at SAA’s conference with presentations from archivists across the country. Ms. Tansey has a longstanding research interest in open government and public records laws, particularly information related to the environment and workers’ rights. As part of her research for articles on the energy industry, she has filed several public records requests with state departments of natural resources, as well as FOIA requests with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Benjamin Tingo is the Chief Legal Officer and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at OPEXUS (formerly AINS, LLC), whose mission is to empower professionals to elevate trust in public institutions through the design, development, and delivery of specialized case management software, including FOIAXpress, the most widely-used FOIA case management solution. In addition to overseeing legal and regulatory matters on behalf of the company, Mr. Tingo spearheads expansion of OPEXUS’ key partnerships, such as integrations of cutting-edge eDiscovery and artificial intelligence solutions within the FOIA use case. Mr. Tingo brings with him more than 16 years of experience in complex civil and criminal litigation in both private and public interest settings. He received his JD from Brooklyn Law School and his BA in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. He is licensed to practice in the State of New York, the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, and the District of Columbia.
Patricia A. Weth
Patricia A. Weth is the Assistant General Counsel for the National FOIA Office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she leads the FOIA Operations and Reporting Team. Previously, she served as the Deputy Assistant General Counsel and FOIA Public Liaison at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In this role, Ms. Weth assisted NLRB with the transition from a decentralized FOIA agency to a centralized FOIA agency, developed FOIA policies and procedures, implemented an electronic FOIA tracking system, supervised and trained the FOIA branch staff, and created backlog reduction plans. Additionally, Ms. Weth has FOIA experience from her work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, Export-Import Bank, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Virginia state and local government. Ms. Weth holds a JD from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America and a BA from Loyola College. (Member of 2018-2020 and 2020-2022 terms)
FOIA Advisory Committee Governance Materials
Oral comments presented to the 2022-2024 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee (Committee) are available in the meeting transcripts posted after committee meetings. Links to the recordings of committee meetings will be posted and are available on the National Archives and Records Administration's YouTube Channel.
Written comments submitted to the 2022-2024 term of the Committee are available on the Committee's Public Comments Submitted to the FOIA Advisory Committee page.
Federal FOIA Advisory Committee