Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

2020 Annual Open Meeting Transcript


National Archives and Records Administration
Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Annual Open Meeting
July 20, 2020
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (ET)

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome and thank you for joining today's annual open meeting. Before we begin, please ensure that you have opened the WebEx participant and chat panels by using the associated icons located at the bottom of your screen. You are welcome to submit written questions throughout the webinar, which will be addressed at the Q&A session of the webinar. To submit a written question, select all panelists from the drop-down menu in the chat panel then enter your question in the message box provided and send.

Please note, all audio connections are muted at this time. If you require technical assistance, please send a chat to the event producer. With that I'll turn the meeting over to [Archivist of the United States] David Ferriero, David, please go ahead.

DAVID S. FERRIERO: Good morning and welcome to the National Archives. Literally the National Archives. I'm talking to you from 700 Pennsylvania Avenue. Thank you for joining us for our fourth annual meeting of the Office of Government Information Services, the Federal Freedom of Information Act Ombudsman. July is our most appropriate month for OGIS’s annual meeting. 54 years ago, this month, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed FOIA into law providing for the public availability of federal department and agency records.

In the years since, Congress has amended FOIA creating OGIS in 2007. The office opened in 2009 and then in 2016 mandating that OGIS had an annual meeting to inform the public about its reviews and reports, and to receive public comments. When President Johnson signed FOIA into law in 1966, he noted an assignee statement that he did say, “With a deep sense of pride that the United States is an open society in which the people's right to know is cherished and guarded.” As the 10th Archivist of the United States, I share that profound pride in our open society, and I'm proud of the work that OGIS does, advocating for a Federal FOIA process that works for all.

OGIS’s work facilitating greater access and transparency to Federal Government records and assisting anyone who seeks help with the FOIA process ties closely to our democracy. OGIS’s work also fits squarely into one of the National Archives four strategic goals, make access happen. Later this morning, we'll hear from two members of the FOIA Advisory Committee about the 22 recommendations the Committee has sent to me for improving the FOIA process. The Committee who's 20 members I appointed two years ago has spent the last two years researching, surveying, listening, and deliberating to come up with new ways to improve FOIA. The recommendations which the Committee approved last month and were delivered to me earlier this month, provide a roadmap for some of the work OGIS will do in the next year. Before turning the program over to OGIS Director Alina Semo for an update on OGIS’s activities in the last year, a note to the FOIA community. Thank you for the work you do, whether you are a member of the public submitting FOIA requests for records or a member of the federal civil service or a contractor working to fulfill those requests. None of this is easy amidst the pandemic and racial injustice, but your work as President Johnson noticed, helps our democracy work. Thank you. Over to you Alina, to update us on OGIS’s activities for the past year.

ALINA M. SEMO:  Great. Thank you so much, David. Good morning everyone. I am Alina Semo, Director of the Office of Government Information Services or OGIS, and it is my pleasure to welcome all of you to our fourth annual open meeting and our first virtual one. I hope everyone who is joining us today has been staying safe, healthy, and well. Again, thank you for joining us virtually. We are very pleased that Congress has given us the opportunity to provide an update on the review and reports of our office and to allow interested persons to appear and present oral and written statements.

This is a perfect forum to showcase all the great work that OGIS has been doing this past year and briefly cover our activities from the fall of 2019 to the present. We have reserved time at the end of today's session to receive public comments. We will also be monitoring the chat function and we will do our best to summarize any substantive comments we receive via chat during the public comment period. You may also submit any written comments to our email box,

Our annual report for fiscal year 2019is unique in a couple of different ways. First, we gave you the new and improved and much shorter annual report, a total of 10 [00:05:09] of pages, not including the chart at the end, but we still managed to highlight all of the important work that OGIS has accomplished. Second, this annual report represents a fiscal year that challenged OGIS in unexpected ways.

OGIS began the year with budget constraints while NARA continued under a series of continuing resolutions and prevented us from billing some non-pending vacancies and following the longest shutdown in the history of the Federal Government, OGIS returned and hit the ground running on all fronts, dispute resolution, compliance and training and outreach. I'll be covering each of these in more detail.

Increase to OGIS continued at a pace roughly the same as the previous fiscal year. In fiscal year 2019, we had OGIS close 4,649 requests for our systems from both FOIA requesters and the agencies. This represents a small decrease from the 4,681 request for assistance we addressed in fiscal year 2018 but as you can see from this chart, and we have discussed in the past, the increase in our caseload in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016 on is directly connected to the passage or the FOIA Improvement Act in 2016.

The amendments reassigned the critical role OGIS plays in the FOIA process by requiring agencies to advise requesters of OGIS services at any stage throughout the FOIA administrative process. As in previous years, the majority of those who requested our assistance were individuals seeking help with the FOIA process.

Despite the challenges of this past year, we streamlined our dispute resolution process and decreased our backlog by 50%. In fiscal year 2019, we looked closely at the information we share with requesters to ensure that we are providing information that not only assists with the disputes at hand but may improve future FOIA requests. We encourage requesters whenever possible to seek assistance directly from the agency in question, for instance, requesting an estimated date of completion using the agency's resources before asking OGIS to request a date on their behalf.

FOIA requires us to report on the number of times each agency engaged in dispute resolution with the assistance of OGIS or the FOIA Public Liaison and we have included this graphic to show those agencies with which we have interacted the most frequently in fiscal year 2019. I do not believe these statistics have changed. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration tend to be our most frequent customers and clients, and FOIA’s.

In the world of compliance, the FOIA statutes mandates that OGIS review FOIA policies, procedures, and compliance and identify procedures and methods for improving compliance. We do that in a variety of ways, including assessing individual agency FOIA programs, conducting assessments on a broader scale, connecting with the agency through a self-assessment program and leading and supporting the FOIA Advisory Committee.

We reviewed and updated FOIA regulations from nine departments and agencies in fiscal year 2019. CIGIE, FDA, NASA, Department of Interior, Committee for Purchase from People who are Blind or Severely Disabled, Commission of Fine Arts, Department of State, American Battle Monuments Commission, and the EPA. We completed and published one issue assessment, Leveraging Technology in FOIA searches and we worked with individual agencies on specific compliance issues that arose in the course of providing dispute resolution services.

For a third consecutive year, we partnered with NARA colleagues who administer the annual Records Management Self-Assessment (RMSA). As part of its oversight of the Federal Records Management program, NARA conducts the self-assessment to determine whether federal agencies are complying with statutory and regulatory records management requirements. The partnership with the chief records officer has assisted us with expanding our review of the agency FOIA policies and procedures, identifying potential compliance issues that merit further exploration and setting OGIS’s goals and priorities.

We published our assessment of the Department of Education, our 13th assessment of an agency FOIA program which OGIS established its compliance program. OGIS recommended seven actions that the department should take to comply with the FOIA, including updating its FOIA regulations to reflect amendments to the FOIA, as well as the department's processes for implementing substantive and procedural changes. The department published it’s updated FOIA regulation early in fiscal year 2020.

Our work with the FOIA Advisory Committee kept us fully engaged in a number of ways. The 2018-2020 term of the Committee held four public meetings, a range of experts presented to the Committee on such topics as Inspector General Audits of agency FOIA and Records Management programs, academic research on FOIA administration and trends, including how first party requests dominate some agency FOIA programs and the use of technology in administering FOIA. In between four Committee meetings, the Committee’s three subcommittees, Records Management, Time-Volume and Vision, met and began drafting proposed recommendations to the Archivist. More on this later today.

We also monitored and reported on the progress of prior Committee recommendations and I am pleased to report that we were able to complete five of the eight Committee recommendations thus far and two additional recommendations are currently in progress and we anticipate being able to complete them by the end of this year. OGIS continued its outreach efforts this past year. We organized another successful Sunshine Week program that featured a conversation between Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero and Chief Judge of the US district court of the district of Columbia, Beryl Howell.

The event also included panel discussions on the past, present and future of OGIS and the future of electronic record keeping. We hosted two public meetings of the Chief FOIA Officers’ Council along with the DOJ Office of Information Policy during which we discussed important issues with FOIA professionals across the Federal Government. The OGIS staff presented at a variety of organizations, including American Society of Active Professionals and the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman and the FOIA program sponsored by the Census Bureau and CDC.

We were able to teach eight sessions of FOIA dispute resolution skills for FOIA professionals, seven agency-specific, and one inter-agency one. Unfortunately, our ability to offer these training courses has been significantly curtailed during the pandemic, but we are examining ways to [00:12:23] our training for online offerings. In our two previous annual reports, we noted an increased demand for training tailored to the needs of individual agencies. This trend continued in fiscal year 2019 as we presented agency specific training to the FDA, DHS, EPA, Department of Agriculture, DOD, and Department of the Treasury. In November 2018, we also provided one inter agency session.

Despite the challenges we have all been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am very proud to say that OGIS was able to adapt and transition smoothly within a matter of weeks to full time telework. Since mid-March of this year, we have accomplished an amazing amount of work. We have received 1,238 new requests for mediation on ombuds assistance, we have closed 1,209 such requests, we have received and closed 403 telephone calls for mediation on ombuds assistance, we have co-hosted a roundtable discussion with OIP and co-chairs of Chief FOIA Officers Council Technology Committee to discuss technology issues with other government FOIA professionals.

We have held two public FOIA Advisory Committee meetings, we have completed and published a FOIA Advisory Committee final report and recommendations, we have hosted a successful webinar for CDC FOIA program to discuss their FOIA issues and constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have published an assessment regarding how agencies are doing and informing requesters via the websites about constraints under FOIA processing capabilities during this time.

As many of you know, the FOIA Advisory Committee, which reports to the Archivist of the United States, provides a forum for public discussion of FOIA issues and offers members of the public the opportunity to provide feedback and ideas for improving the FOIA process. The Archivist has renewed the Committee’s charter for a fourth term, 2020 to 2022, and I am excited to continue to chair the next Committee term. We were pleased to receive a number of nominations, which the Archivist will review, and we will announce the new Committee members before our first meeting of the next term, which is scheduled for Thursday September 10th.

Today, we are excited to be able to discuss the work of the third term of the FOIA Advisory Committee and their recently issued final report and recommendation. We have a distinguished panel today and I'm very pleased to introduce our moderator of this panel, Kirsten Mitchell, and she in turn will introduce our panelists. Kirsten wears many hats, including as the Compliance Team Lead with OGIS. She began her work at OGIS as a facilitator and has helped to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies in hundreds of cases.

Kirsten is also serving as the President of the American Society of Access Professionals, an organization that brings FOIA professionals and the requester community together to collaboratively improve access to information and privacy processes. Before joining OGIS in 2010, she worked at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups that worked to gain passage of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which amended FOIA and created OGIS.

As a former journalist, Kirsten frequently used state and federal records requests to shine a light on how the government operates, most recently with the New York Times Company. Kirsten earned her undergraduate degree in English from Mary Washington College and her graduate degree in journalism and public affairs from American University. But the most important hat for today's purposes that Kirsten has worn, also gallantly for the last two years, has been as a Designated Federal Officer for the FOIA Advisory Committee. You may ask, what does the Designated Federal Officer or DFO do?

Beyond the core duties required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the DFO assures that accurate records are kept of the Committee's deliberations and minutes of meetings are prepared and certified, sends agendas and copies of all related information to members before meetings, makes logistical arrangements for the meetings and arranges for resource persons, guest speakers, and supplementary materials, prepares federal register notices, maintains all Committee documents, attends all subcommittee meetings and this is my favorite one; sits next to the chair for communication during meetings and make sure that Committee business is conducted according to all applicable regulations, policies, and procedures. She keeps me on track.

I definitely could not have succeeded as the chair of the Committee without Kirsten’s amazing support and organizational skills. She has helped bring to the finish line what we will be discussing next. Without further ado, Kirsten, I'm going to turn it over to you and have you take over the slides.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. Thank you. That was a lovely introduction and I just want to say, I don't do this alone, I have lots of help here at the National Archives for all of these various jobs. I will introduce our panelists. Jason Baron really needs no introduction, but a few words. He has had a long and distinguished career as an expert in electronic record keeping and eDiscovery for which he is nationally and indeed internationally known. He's currently with the firm Faegre Drinker. He was the first appointed director of litigation for the National Archives and Records Administration for 13 years.

Prior to that, he was a trial lawyer and senior counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he acted as lead counsel on a number of FOIA lawsuits. Jason has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has been invited to appear on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and Good Morning America and it is a good morning indeed when the FOIA world can hear from Jason Baron.

Patricia Weth has had a long and distinguished career at five federal agencies, most recently as Deputy Assistant General Counsel in the FOIA branch at the National Labor Relations Board. She has also worked at three cabinet level agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Export-Import Bank. I love the wide variety of experience that Patricia brings.

Patricia is a big believer in collaboration and in picking up the phone to talk with requesters. One of my favorite stories about Patricia is she once greatly exceeded a requester's expectation when she phoned him to seek clarification on his FOIA request and explained types of agency records. He was a bit surprised that he got a call from a government official  and this call happened years ago but to this day, Patricia often thinks of this gentleman whenever she phones requesters.

Jason and Patricia were both on the final report working group that compiled and wrote the final report from various subcommittee reports, which we'll hear more about in a little bit. I want to also recognize Abi Mosheim of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Sean Moulton of the Project on Government Oversight, who's worked with Jason and Patricia in getting this final report to print, if you will.

Before launching into the 22 recommendations, I just want to give some real quick background on the FOIA Advisory Committee. As Alina mentioned earlier, the Archivist signed the charter for the upcoming FOIA Advisory Committee earlier a few weeks ago. It's very much like the previous charter; balance is very important. There are no more than 20 individuals from inside and outside the government and they are tasked with studying the Federal FOIA landscape across the executive branch and making recommendations to Archivist David Ferriero.

Much more about the Committee is available on the FOIA website and the link is here on the slide. This term of the Federal FOIA Advisory Committee decided in 2018 to form three subcommittees devoted to Records Management, Time and Volume issues and a Vision subcommittee looking at the future of FOIA. Before turning it over, I will give you a quick overview of each of the Committees. Each subcommittee, as I mentioned earlier, submitted a report which is available on the FOIA Advisory Committee website. The recommendations from the three subcommittees were in turn merged into the single set of recommendations.

Each subcommittee had two co-chairs, one from inside the government and one from outside the government. I want to quickly mention the members who were the co-chairs. For Time and Volume, Emily Creighton of the American Immigration Council was the non-government co-chair and Bradley White of the Department of Homeland Security was the government co-chair. What's interesting about the American Immigration Council is there is no court discovery in immigration proceedings.

FOIA is the tool that one uses to get information from the government, so very big user of FOIA. The department of Homeland Security where Bradley White hails from, in FY 2019 processed nearly 430,000 FOIA requests or 49% of all FOIA requests processed that fiscal year. The Vision Subcommittee chairpersons were Joan Kaminer of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chris Knox of Deloitte. EPA processed more than 9,500 requests in FY 2019. Much smaller than DHS, but it's still a big force in FOIA and Deloitte is a government contractor which does a lot of work with FOIA Discovery.

Then finally, Records Management, Jason Baron, as I introduced earlier, with Faegre Drinker, partnered with Ryan Law of the Department of the Treasury. Ryan is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Privacy Transparency and Records. He wears many hats, overseeing both FOIA and Records Management, which as you'll hear from Jason is an important partnership. Let's start with Records Management since nine of the 22 recommendations fall into Records Management.

Jason, you, and Ryan chaired the Records Management Subcommittee. Can you give a brief overview of those recommendations and put them into perspective? Why are they important?

JASON R. BARON:  Thanks Kirsten. Thank you, Alina, and Kirsten for having me as part of this webinar. I just want to say at the very top that the 13 years that I spent at the National Archives were some of the happiest years of my time in government working with Archivists David Ferriero and with General Counsel Gary Stern and the people in the General Counsel's office. I had a mission coming into the FOIA Advisory Committee term to think about the subject of records more holistically, not just to have a silo with FOIA and a silo with the Federal Records Act.

What I thought that the subcommittee should do is to think about recommendations that would bridge that gap because in my experience of 33 years in government at the Justice Department and at NARA. FOIA people were over here and records officers were over here, and the lawyers were at a third place and while they talked to each other, sometimes there are different languages and cultures that are present and so, why not have recommendations that try to integrate that along with new technology and new concepts that are coming into the 21st century across the board on FOIA and the Federal Records? That's how I can see, Ryan can see, the Records Management subcommittee.

We'll go to the next slide Kirsten. We'll just go into the recommendations. The recommendations on these slides are all over the place where we just took several of them and they're not in the order of the final report, but they're all part of the final report. The first one that I want to talk about, recommendation four, is that we believe that there should be training about Records Management for FOIA officers. Whether it's LIP or being conducted in some other place. If there's going to be a module for FOIA, if it's training for FOIA, there should be a module for Records Management embedded within the FOIA training.

Similarly, at the National Archives, they have lots of training on Records Management issues, but perhaps there should be a bit of emphasis on highlighting FOIA for those individuals that are part of Records Management throughout the government. It seems to me that you have the deposition of Federal Records. You have the deposition of agency records; you have a lot in common with these communities and clearly searches on record systems. It seemed that the training was very important and so we put that right up in the recommendations, very near the beginning. Next slide.

We also thought, Ryan in particular, and the rest of our subcommittee thought that we should recommend that guidance be put up on FOIA websites that are related to Records Management. FOIA websites vary throughout the government. Different agencies do different things and some have references to record schedules and as part of their website, so why not recommended that this is more generally the case that agencies put up Records Management related materials on their website so the public can have a roadmap of sorts that there are other ways that agencies put up guidance to FOIA requesters, but it seems to us that it would be useful and helpful to have Records Management related materials, particularly record schedules, but not limited to that. Next slide.

We also looked at how agencies are putting up FOIA documents that have been released in… online and while some agencies use some services like, we thought that a good recommendation would be for agencies to work towards the goal of giving access to records in central repositories in standardized ways using standardized metadata in addition to providing access on agency websites.

OIP has issued guidance on metadata and in the final report, we talked at some length about how agencies could accomplish this, including with pointers from and increase use of other repository. It's something for agencies to consider. It would help the public access to have these kinds of repositories to go to. Next slide.

The idea of FOIA should be integrated, we thought, in what NARA’s initiative is, which is known as FERMI, the Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative and NARA was very willing to think about this and is thinking about this in terms of a use case for access. The FERMI is an approach that will ultimately result in a standardized interoperable RM solution across government using what are universal electronic Records Management requirements and access falls within the six categories of FERMI under use and in the spreadsheets and the materials that are on the FERMI website, one could see that that there should be some incorporation of access issues like FOIA and so we are encouraging a use case for FOIA and agencies will become more familiar with FERMI over time. Next slide.

We also heard from various members of Inspectors General's offices in one of our public meetings that it did trigger a thought in our minds that we would recommend that the chair of CIGIE, just the overarching body that Inspectors General meet and discuss policy issues and issues of oversight, that CIGIE considered designating a cross cutting project or making as a priority area, the issue of how agencies provide FOIA access and particularly the records in electronic or digital form.

This is something that I think is very important. I think Inspectors General can play a prominent role in pushing agencies to consider new and different ways of going about [00:32:26 inaudible] to improve what they do. Some Inspectors General supervision is a worthy goal and so we are recommending that CIGIE consider this and we hope that you take action on it in the future. Next slide.

As people who know me know that I've been pushing eDiscovery, pushing issues with respect to technology for some time. I did so with the government. We want to talk a little bit about There, about recommendations that go to machine readability, to eDiscovery and to Chief Data Officers as the new way of thinking about data and information and governance. We'll go to the next slide.

One of the recommendations that we came forth with was that FOIA documents released on FOIA website, whether they're central repositories or whether they're an agency web pages, should be open, legible, machine readable and machine actionable. What does that mean? Certainly, we all know what legible means. They are good copies that are easy to read, should be up. But with respect to the other terms, this can vary over a spectrum. We have some agencies that we noted are still putting up PDFs or TIFF images that cannot be read as texts.

They need to be OCR, using optical character recognition and that's a problem. But beyond that there are new technologies to embrace like XML or JSON or HTML or using .csv as a way of being able to download spreadsheets. The report goes into more detail on this, but it seemed to us that there's an opportunity to make the documents that are released more user friendly and so we're recommending this. Next slide.

This is one of my favorites, Kirsten and Patricia. As you both know that I've been on a soapbox for, probably 15 years, to have FOIA embrace eDiscovery and now for a larger community to embrace eDiscovery. When I and others on the subcommittee read Chief FOIA Officer reports that go into OIP every year, what I found is that there is an embrace of some eDiscovery tools in federal agencies, but there could be more done in this area. What the report recommends is that agencies give serious consideration to what, in the private sector we're calling technology-assisted review or predictive coding.

In larger requests that involve tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of documents, it would be much more efficient for the FOIA process to incorporate what are these advanced search techniques. It's not for every FOIA request obviously, but in the larger realm, in the more complex realm of requests, agencies should think about this. They should think more generally about eDiscovery tools anyway with even more modest requests.

We go on at length about that, and there is an element of the discussion in the report about making sure that the tools are used for email and Capstone repositories. Every agency that has signed up for Capstone and volunteered to do Capstone, and I think they are on the order of 200 of them, are having a universe that is being preserved for several years in most cases and permanently for senior executives. It becomes important over time if a lot of email is being preserved in a repository to be able to search it adequately. eDiscovery tools will help and there should be, I think, a more robust discussion in government about using them. I'll get off my soapbox there and go onto the next recommendation.

This is another favorite of mine and it will come up in another forum later, but we are in an era where the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 has triggered a requirement that each agency appoint a Chief Data Officer which is, that person is going to in turn be part of a Chief Data Officer Council and the council has met at least once so far this year. The importance of CDOs is that their tasked through OMB guidance to think about the data life cycle and the life cycle of information. Part of a working group at each agency, a data governance body that the CDO chairs, is going to be a Chief FOIA Officer and others, senior officials who are talking about data that each agency has.

I think it's important and the subcommittee thought it was important to recommend that in that discussion particularly from the NARA liaison and from others, to enhance the discussion by bringing in considerations of FOIA and record keeping when you're discussing data. I can tell you that this is another aspect of siloing where if we don't have that conversation with each agency, the risk is that CDOs and people in that community are not going to be thinking about FOIA and record keeping very much when they're looking at data quality and the types of data that agencies have.

It's clear to me and to the subcommittee that there really is a very close connection here and so we recommended that there is an interaction and at a teaching moment for the larger CDO community about records. Next slide. That's it for me and I'll turn it back to Kirsten.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. Thank you, Jason, for that brief overview. Before turning it over to Patricia, I have a couple of questions for you. I heard you say a couple of times you have a few that you really liked a lot, but which one of all of these is your favorite recommendation of these that you have just presented?

JASON R. BARON:  It's like who's my favorite child. I actually have one child so it’s easy for me.


JASON R. BARON:  Look, I've already said it, that eDiscovery has been something that I have been focusing on for a very large part of my career because frankly, when I was at the National Archives, we have the Tobacco Lawsuit and I was tasked to search through 30 million Clinton administration emails and that situation's only gotten bigger and National Archives has hundreds of millions of emails to search through and agencies as well through Capstone repositories and just because every agency is keeping a lot of electronic stuff that in all sorts of forms it is incumbent.

It is absolutely important to search. You can't accumulate records without being able to search them. What's the purpose? The strategic goal as the Archivist mentioned is, make access happen. You need to have some means of accessing these incredibly large repositories and so that's why I've been pushing the tools that FOIA has developed in the eDiscovery space to both records officers and FOIA officers.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. Let me ask you one other question and that is, what ideas do you have for getting this implemented for the FOIA officer and federal agency? What guidelines should he or she use?

JASON R. BARON:  Across these recommendations and in fact, across all of the recommendations, the ones that Patricia is going to discuss as well, and we're going to come back to, there is obviously a need for those experts in FOIA to be talking to others at the agency. The silo concept's got to go, but FOIA officers, if they're not designated themselves as the Chief FOIA Officer at an agency, report up to that Chief FOIA Officer, and that officer sits with other senior officials in what I call the C-suite, CIOs, CFOs, general councils, CISOs, and you name it and Chief Privacy Officers. There needs to be a conversation which we call information governance, a larger conversation that includes the FOIA professionals on staff.

If you can get a champion to hear you and across the board the types of projects that a FOIA office wants to engage in, then you're a lot of the way there. You obviously want to have small wins in the FOIA area before you ask for huge amounts of money expenditures in a budget. There isn't a whole lot of money in the government to do very much of a lot of things, but I think the FOIA officers should be talking to others and not just thinking of her job or his job as simply isolated and talking to only key individuals on FOIA requests.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay, great. Excellent advice, forming partnerships and communicating. Patricia, I am going to turn this over to you to go over the recommendations from the Time/Volume Subcommittee and I understand that the Subcommittee that you were on conducted surveys of FOIA officers and FOIA requesters. We'd love to hear a bit about that as you go through the recommendations.

PATRICIA WETH:  Sure. First, I wanted to say, when we put this presentation together, we did decide to give everyone the recommendations broken down by the subcommittee. When you see these different numbers like 1 and 10 and 5 all over the place, I just want you to know in the report itself it's organized and we've broken it out in the report by who the recommendations go to, say to OGIS, to OIP, the agencies or to the Chief FOIA Officers Council or to Congress.

As Kirsten mentioned, the Time-Volume Subcommittee did have a survey, put together survey. Specific questions were requesters and specific questions were federal FOIA professional. The survey was sent out to different networks of the subcommittee members, as well as a big thank you to Claire Shanley and the American Society of Access Professionals, they were very helpful too. They went out to their network. As I said, the surveys were specifically drafted for, one for FOIA professionals and one for requesters.

The decision among the Committee members was to write open-ended questions because they really wanted to hear the voices of the folks who responded to the survey are not being limited by multiple choices. The results of the surveys are attached to the Subcommittee's report and in it, it does have the responses broken down by percentages, but also there's a nice word cloud in there so you can see some of the different language that came through.

What I found interesting in the survey was, one of the questions for the requesters was, what is your biggest question about the FOIA process? For all of them, the biggest question was, what is the process? Then the flip side of that question, the FOIA agency professionals were asked, what do you think is the biggest area of confusion among requesters, and they identified it as knowledge about the process. It's interesting because a lot of times the responses from the FOIA professionals and from the requester community almost mirror each other.

For example, we had some questions in there regarding training for FOIA professionals and the FOIA professionals responding to the survey, almost half of them said that they felt they did not receive adequate training. Among the FOIA requester community, roughly 25% of them felt that the FOIA professionals could use training and that would help to make the process be more efficient. Again, we have so much mirror of the responses.

Another item that I found interesting but not surprising, is that requesters, roughly 50% of them were willing to narrow the scope of their requests. In my experience, I've found that to be true. A lot of requesters are willing to narrow the scope of the request once they understand what the records are, and the availability. Then another interesting point was, over 90% of the requesters before they filed the FOIA requests, were doing research before  they filed that request so that they could have a properly crafted FOIA request. Those were some interesting responses.

The one that was the most interesting to me I'll have to say was, among FOIA agency professionals the question was asked, if they had a magic wand to fix FOIA, what would they do? The top response was to fix internal processes, which I found very interesting. Then the second largest response was, allow more time to process cases, which a lot of us would like much more than 20 working days to get a request out. Those were just to give you a highlight about some of the responses. What I'd like to turn your attention to is recommendations five. That would be the next slide, Kirsten, thank you.

This recommendation came out of the Time-Volume Committee and its recommendation  that OIP issue guidance to allow requesting agencies to have mandatory FOIA training for their employees. Also, an additional recommendation that OGIS and OIP undertake a study of the agency's current training requirements. The Committee came up with these recommendations based upon the responses from the survey, that both the FOIA agency professionals and the requester community thought more training would be helpful.

It's also interesting to note that under FOIA, the Chief FOIA Officer is required to offer training to the agency staff. Well, DOJ offers training and ASAP offers training. This is really to have, really provide more training within the agency or to encourage folks to be able to attend the different DOJ trainings. Next slide, please, Kirsten.

This recommendation one, the Committee recommends that OGIS undertake an assessment of the information that's made on the FOIA agency's website and for OGIS to also provide guidance on how agencies could improve their online descriptions of the process. Again, this goes back to the survey where a lot of requesters were not familiar with the process and so the best way to address that is to have the best and the brightest websites where we can really explain the process clearly to the requester. Next slide, please Kirsten.

Recommendation 13. This recommendation is that agencies conduct a review of their staffing and their technology, maybe every two years, to identify the resources that they need to handle the FOIA requests’ demands. I really was so pleased when one of my colleagues made this recommendation. At the end of the fiscal year when I completed the FOIA annual report, I had started this process and I know I personally have found it helpful in managing workload and making recommendations regarding staffing needs and new technology. I really liked this recommendation.

The next recommendation, this recommendation is, the subcommittee recommends that OGIS and OIP have agencies identify certain records that are frequently requested by first party requesters, and to implement a process to make these records accessible without requiring individuals to have to go through the FOIA process. It's interesting because this recommendation and the next recommendation came out of a subcommittee where we were looking at what other countries were doing with their Freedom of Information Act request.

We wanted to try and find ideas from other countries. What we stumbled upon was Professor Margaret Kwoka had done a presentation for the Committee on First-Person FOIA. Through her research, she came to find that a good portion of FOIA requests are filed by first party requesters. We thought, wouldn't it be great if we could find a way where requesters are going to be able to get their records without having to go through FOIA? Some agencies have same process. The FBI for criminal background checks, they have a process in place. Also, the veteran’s administration has a veteran’s benefit management system where veterans and their legal counsel community use that to obtain the records.

The next recommendation, recommendation 15. This one, we're recommending the agencies try and provide a way to allow information be provided to the public outside of FOIA including in online databases, where the records basically go to the heart of the agency's mission. Two examples that we have for that is one, is the copyright office has a public catalog of all the copyright registrations and by having this catalog available, it really has cut down on the number of FOIA requests that they need. Another example is from the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission. They have a public database [National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)] regarding the safety of consumer products. Again, having that available has significantly decreased the number of FOIA requests that they've received.

The next recommendation is the Committee recommended that OIP collect information through the Chief FOIA Officer report regarding agency's standard operating procedures. The thought behind this, again, was we looked back to the survey where a lot of Federal FOIA professionals felt that their magic wand wish was to fix the FOIA… fix internal processes. By having a well drafted standard operating procedure, that's going to have processes in place and it’s going to cut down confusion and frustration [00:57:48 inaudible] very helpful in training staff and training new employees. That's how we came up with this recommendation.

Those are all of the Time/Volume recommendations. The next ones come from the Vision Subcommittee which I was also a member of the Vision Subcommittee. The Vision Subcommittee, I'm a lawyer, so I'm not used to doing this, but we came up with a mission statement to set us on the right track for this subcommittee. I will read it all to you, but I will point out that our strategic plan was to raise the priority of FOIA within the executive branch, reconsider the model of OGIS within the FOIA community, create accountability for transparency, manage expectations between agencies and the requester community and stressing the need for increased and continued financial support.

That's quite a visionary mission statement. I'm really proud that we were really able to look into all of these measures and the majority of which we came up with the recommendations for.

The first recommendation. The Committee recommends that OGIS and OIP together help agencies in establishing briefings for senior leaders, especially during transitions or when you have new leadership. This type of training or thought would allow leadership to have an understanding of FOIA, the resources and the obligations and also to educate leadership on the expectations of the FOIA process, as well as Records Management. The goal here is to ensure that senior leadership understands their responsibilities.

By having the DOJ and OIP create the training together, that's really going to assist agencies in educating their leadership because when you say this is a training from DOJ and OGIS together, that I believe would speak volumes to leadership versus the FOIA officer trying to impart a training.

The next recommendation. For this one, the Committee recommended that OGIS and OIP examining FOIA performance measures that are in the agency performance plan in order to encourage agencies to include FOIA in their performance plans. The thought behind this is, if you do have some FOIA metrics or FOIA performance measures in your agency’s performance plans, your leadership will be more invested and also have a better understanding of your FOIA process. Then the second part of this recommendation was, after OGIS examine the measures, that they submit the results of their assessment and any recommendations that they have to Congress and the President.

The next two recommendations again, are from the Vision Subcommittee, but these recommendations instead of directed towards agencies or to OGIS and OIP, they are for the Chief FOIA Officers Council.

In the first one we have, we proposed to the Chief FOIA Officers Council that they recommend agency leadership annually issue a memorandum reminding employees of their responsibilities under the FOIA. I can tell you that I was at DOE and USDA when the secretary issued such a memorandum and it was very powerful and it really helped inform the employees of their importance of FOIA, a tight deadline that we were under and many of the offices were a little more understanding about the pressures we were under and were able to better work with us.

I've also been at NLRB. We've also issued a similar memo during Sunshine Week, which is a nice time of the year to issue such a memo. Our thought here is that, if the Chief FOIA Officer for each agency comes back to the agency and recommends this type of memo, that the leadership would be amenable to such [01:04:13].

The next recommendation that is directed to the Chief FOIA Officers Council is for the creation of a Committee for cross agency collaboration. The goal for this Committee would be to research revenue resources for FOIA programs, also to promote initiatives for career trajectories for FOIA professionals, and then lastly, to recommend models to align agency resources. The goal of this recommendation coming from the Vision Subcommittee is to ensure that FOIA programs are well funded. It's such a creative recommendation and I know in the prior Committee, a similar recommendation was made for a technology Committee through the Chief FOIA Officers Council, and that was greatly successful. I look forward to seeing what this Committee comes up with.

Next, the Vision Committee came up with recommendations for Congress. The first recommendation to Congress, the Committee recommended that Congress engage more in oversight of the FOIA and the problems with implementing the FOIA and encouraged Congress to hold more hearings and also to strengthen the Office of Government Information Services with more authority and expanding the resources. Again, the goal of this recommendation was for there to be more government oversight of FOIA administration.

The thought behind holding more hearings in Congress on FOIA was so that problems could be discussed and then we could identify solutions to these problems. The other thought was strengthening OGIS, giving them more authority and more resources is in the short time of the creation of OGIS, they've really had a huge impact in the FOIA community. To be underfunded and under authorized, it's difficult for them to oversee FOIA across the government.

Then the second recommendation that the Committee had for Congress was to ask Congress to properly fund FOIA offices and ensure that agencies receive the resources that they need in order to do their job. Again, the goal here for this recommendation is to ensure that FOIA programs are well-funded. It's interesting to note that in the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, agencies as well as OGIS, had more duties and responsibilities under the FOIA and it specifically said in that Act that that yes, there's more tasks, but there's no additional funding.

I think this recommendation really tries to make up for that and as you read the report, there's some ideas under this recommendation about what could be done. One is that Congress could require that the FOIA office be a budget line item for agencies and that way Congress could directly appropriate FOIA funds. Those are the last of the recommendations to Congress.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Thank you, Patricia. So many questions. I heard you say OGIS quite a lot, and I just wanted to let all the attendees know that we at OGIS have already started meeting to come up with a strategic plan for implementing these recommendations and mostly through forming partnerships with colleagues here at the National Archives, partnerships with the Office of Information Policy over at the Department of Justice, partnerships with the Chief FOIA Officers Council, which Alina chairs.

I just wanted to let folks know that we are honest, and I also wanted to let everyone know that we will be posting a stream of this meeting on our YouTube channel when it becomes available, when the stream becomes available. Patricia, a question for you. It’s the same one I asked Jason. Of all of these recommendations that you've just been through, which one is your favorite and why?

PATRICIA WETH:  Okay. That's tough because I liked them all. Well, actually my favorite one is last one that I discussed and that's about having Congress provide more money for the FOIA office. I think if we had more resources, we would better meet our 20-day working deadlines. I'm a huge fan of that one, but another one that I absolutely love is the idea of agencies being able to look for records that first party requesters ask for and to try and find a different process for individuals to be able to get their own records instead of having to go through FOIA, which oftentimes there's great delays and it’s difficult for them to get their records in a timely manner.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay, great. Thank you. I have another question and that is, what ideas do you have for implementation of some of these recommendations for the typical FOIA office or as an agency somewhere in the government?

PATRICIA WETH:  That's a great question. First of all, I think for training I will say this; I think you can do some great in-house trainings with your FOIA team but also now DOJ has a lot of their trainings available virtually online. I think for those of us in the D.C. area, we're a bit spoiled because we get to go to the OGIS and the DOJ trainings, and folks not in the DC area don't have that availability but now a lot of things like I heard you all recently said you're going to try and do your dispute resolution training online and that, I think that right there, you can knock off the training. I will say this, we had OGIS come to our agency and do a dispute resolution training, specifically geared to our agency and it was really helpful.

The other thoughts that I had were for your FOIA website, that, I think is an easy fix. I think if you can work with your OCIO team and use the DOJ guidance, DOJ came out with a guidance 2.0 website guidance [OIP Guidance: Agency FOIA Websites 2.0], I believe 2.0, which is really helpful as well as guidance that they have in their assessment tool kit. I think we've provided a lot of help. These are things that hopefully with the website wouldn't cost you too much money. The other thought of that things that the folks can do that doesn't cost them any money is doing the assessment of staff and technology to identify your resources for your future FOIA demand. That can be done by the FOIA officer and his or her staff.

Another item that doesn't cost any money would be to work with leadership or your Chief FOIA Officer to include FOIA performance measures in the agency performance plan. Again,  that doesn't cost anything. Another no cost item is [01:14:47 inaudible] the memo on the importance of FOIA. Having the secretary of the agency had send that out and even if you do it as an annual item, maybe every… during Sunshine Week in March would be great. This was a recommendation that was printed out by OGIS, I believe back in 2012, 2013 and I believe NARA started it.

Those are some no cost items that you can really implement now, and you can take the report and give this to your leadership, and I think it will help you be able to implement some of these items.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. That's great. I love the emphasis on no cost in terms of financial resources.

PATRICIA WETH:  Yeah, nobody [01:15:52 crosstalk]. It's always hard when you say, “it's going to cost X,” but when it's free it's almost a no brainer.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  I'm going to turn this back over to Jason to talk about some future recommendations but before I do, Jason, do you have any questions for Patricia about what she has just gone over?

JASON R. BARON:  I think Patricia has done a great job. Patricia and I talked about how the next FOIA Advisory Committee can help with implementing some of these recommendations. Patricia, do you think that the FOIA Advisory Committee can play a role in helping agencies to make progress?

PATRICIA WETH:  That was a recommendation or a suggestion that was put into the Committee's final report and that was one of your suggestions, Jason, and I love that suggestion. It's great for the Committee to come up with all these recommendations but a recommendation is great, but you need some help to get them implemented. I love the suggestions to have this next FOIA Advisory Committee assist with the implementation of these.

JASON R. BARON:  I hope it does.


KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Jason, over to you for the past, present and future.

JASON R. BARON:  We had a section of the report that looked into the future and the Archivist David Ferriero has been looking to the future for some time. Back in 2012, he spearheaded managing government records directive that really changed the course of how email went from printed paper to an electronic process after 2016 electronic management and set a deadline at the end of the decade for making further progress towards electronic government. Then more recently, Mr. Ferriero and OMB issued [Memorandum] M-19-21 and that memo transitioned to electronic records which is cited several times in the final report, is talking about the future, talking about how we get to 2022 and going digital both as NARA as well as managing electronic records in government. What this recommendation purports to do, is to ask the Archivist to continue in taking a leadership role particularly on what is increasingly thought of as data strategies so that they incorporate FOIA access and federal record keeping.

This dovetails with the early recommendation about a CDO officer and officers reporting to the CDO council. It is pretty clear to a number of us where the hockey puck is going over the next decade and that is, increased tension and emphasis to data and data strategies and the life cycle of data. It is enormously important that the frameworks of FOIA that have been with us since 1966 and the Federal Records Act, which goes back to 1950 in its current major form and even before that get incorporated in notions of that, get incorporated in conversations about data strategy going forward.

One would like to see references to FOIA and the Federal Records Act in various OMB memos and whatever products are coming out and I think the Archivist could continue to play a really visionary and a strategic role in that. That's one of our looks to the future recommendations.

Next slide. The last recommendation, 22, in the final report is really looking to the future and what we're saying is that the Archivist should work with other governmental components and industry in kind of R&D research into AI, to artificial intelligence and the machine learning to improve FOIA and to improve searches through electronic record repositories. Wouldn't it be nice to the FOIA community, if they through an algorithm, through machine learning, could  make your job easier by identifying those records in a greater collection? That may have sensitivities to them, that may have exempt material that is subject to withholding either in whole or in part.

This is an aspirational goal, but I think it's within the capability of current machine learning technologies and I think there's… if we can harness various components of government that already are involved in a large variety of AI activities under an executive order that's been issued in this administration, and just generally because they are facing what the future is. We can point practical applications to recordkeeping, auto classification and FOIA in terms of filtering content that would add search, that would all be great. We wrote this in as something that’s pointing to the work that's clearly going to come over the next few years.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Great. Thank you, Jason. That is all of the recommendations and we want to turn it over to Q and A but before we do, I have one last question for both of you, and that is, can you talk a little bit about how your experience has been serving on this term’s FOIA Advisory Committee?

PATRICIA WETH:  For me, it was really an honor to be on this Committee. I have to say it was one of the highlights of my career. On this Committee I, served with other Federal Government FOIA professionals. We had some historians and professors, representatives from [01:23:32 inaudible] and Tom Susman and Jason were huge resources for us. I learned so much. It never would dawn on me to come up with a mission statement and what a beautiful thing that was. Many of my colleagues came up with recommendations that never occurred to me and they were fantastic ideas.

What I do love is that everyone on the Committee was very passionate, but we were united in a common goal. It was also interesting to me that federal agency folks and requester community folks, they had empathy for the other. They understood each other's struggles. At the end of the day, we're really are there for a common goal. Requesters want their records in a timely manner and agencies want to provide these records in a timely manner, so to be able to work with this group and try and find some real positive solutions was just a wonderful experience. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Thank you. Jason, how is your experience?

JASON R. BARON:  I think I've already said that I loved working at the National Archives, that it was a great joy to be able to come back into an environment where I'm working with all of you in OGIS, Alina and Kirsten, and Jessie, and others and Martha, and then working with other federal officials as part of the advisory group. I came in with some degree of skepticism as to how much we could accomplish. I think the surprising thing to me and something that was a terrific was that the group that comprised the third term came up with 22 recommendations that if implemented could really make progress in this area.

They're not small board, they are thinking about ways that systemically we can improve FOIA throughout the government. I'm very happy with the efforts that across the board that have been made. I found the time to be very interesting, and I look forward to watching the work of Alina chairing the next term.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Great. Thank you, Jason. I'm now going to open it up for questions. [01:26:50], I don't know whether we've gotten any via chat, but I just wanted to let all participants know that if you have a question, you can please chat to us in the chat box or our event producer will also open the phone line.

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  Absolutely ladies and gentlemen. As a reminder, to submit a written question, select all panelist in the drop-down menu in the chat panel and put your question in the message box provided and send. Alternatively, pressing pound two on your telephone keypad will enter you into the question queue. You will hear a notification when your line is unmuted, and at that time state your question. Once again, pressing pound two will enter you into the verbal question queue.



KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  While we are awaiting, did you have any questions for Jason and Patricia?

ALINA M. SEMO:  No. I think they both did an excellent job of presenting all these different recommendations. I'm not sure if you pointed this out earlier, Kirsten, but we had the privilege of working with Jason and Patricia along this Abi Mosheim and Sean Moulton from POGO [The Project On Government Oversight] on drafting the final report. One of the reasons that I thought Jason and Patricia would be ideal in presenting these is not only were they participants in the process and very informed participants but knowing all the nitty gritty details in the final report and making sure all the I's are dotted, all the T's were crossed. They definitely put a lot of labor into that process and for that, I am very thankful. I know Kirsten you are too.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Yes, indeed, and just one thing, Jason mentioned Jessie Kratz, who is the National Archives historian. We were lucky to have her detailed to OGIS for the past several months to help with Advisory Committee duties and that's been very helpful. Any questions?

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  I currently see no questions in the question queue for the [01:29:19 inaudible].

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. We've got a shy audience today. I'm actually going to ask a question if I could. Going back to the very beginning of this discussion, Jason, you mentioned the silos and you mentioned the Federal Record Act and the Freedom of Information Act and how they define records differently. Can you discuss that at all?

JASON R. BARON:  Those definitions are not exactly the same. For one thing, [01:29:59 inaudible] have a slightly different scope. FOIA covers the executive branch and not the legislative or judicial branches whereas the Federal Records Act covers not only the executive branch, but portions of the legislative and judicial branch. What is defined as a federal record is a little broader, but the definition itself, agency records excluded from that or our personal records. Under the Federal Records Act, there are different ways of thinking about it. There are federal records, they're non records and then there are personal records and so there's that.

In my view, they're very close and it is unfortunate that they're dealt with in agencies by usually by different people and different processes without a hundred percent knowledge. For example, let's just pick one of my favorite topics, Capstone. Capstone is a policy that's a voluntary policy that agencies have adopted for email and the question I would have to the FOIA officers on watching this is, to what extent are you aware of what your agency is doing with respect to Capstone policies and to what extent you're incorporating thinking about searching again, perhaps to have repositories for FOIA requests?

The records officers know all about it, or they should, the agency has implemented, FOIA Officer's may or may not know and that's come out in various surveys and reports. That's one area that you can see that there's a divergence in terms of the cultures and thinking about but everything that we've talked about in this webinar is really trying to bring closer together those communities by incorporating some elements of Records Management into FOIA in terms of the training and otherwise. There you have it.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay, great. Thank you. It sounds like an area worthy of a further look. I don't see any questions in the chat box, Alina, and Michelle, do we have any on the phone?

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  There are currently no question in the queue.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Okay. Super. I will turn it back over to Alina then. Thank you, Jason and thank you, Patricia. A round of virtual applause for both of you. I wish we were in McGowan Theater at the National Archives doing this in person, but alas, we are not, but thank you.

PATRICIA WETH:  Thank you.

ALINA M. SEMO:  All right, thanks very much. Kirsten, do you want to advance to the next slide?

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Great. Public comments?

ALINA M. SEMO:  Yeah. [01:33:21 crosstalk]. That is the next slide. At this time, as we always do in our public meetings, we leave time at the end for anyone who would like to offer any public comments. I will say that we have received one fairly lengthy comment from members of requester community. We are going to post it online unless we have already done that. Please check our website. Click on the annual [01:33:56 inaudible] link and click on this year's annual report and you’ll be able to see it there.

[On July 18, 2020, OGIS posted the written comment submitted by Fred Trotteron July 17, 2020, to the Annual Open Meeting page on its website.]

At this time, I want to open up the phones and, in the chat, to anyone who wants to make any comments. If you could state your name and affiliation, that would be great. Please let's go ahead. Michelle, can you just remind everyone one more time, how they can chime in by phone?

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  Absolutely. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, to be able to make a comment or ask a question over the phone, please press pound two on your telephone keypad. You will hear a notification when your line is unmuted. At that time, please state your comment or question. Once again, pressing pound two will enter you into the question queue.

ALINA M. SEMO:  Okay, thanks. I'm going to ask, Kirsten, do you see any chat comments or questions in our chat box? I don't see any. Again, I think we have a shy audience today. I think you're absolutely right.

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  Yeah. I think we do have a shy audience. I don't see any.

ALINA M. SEMO:  Maybe we scheduled this for Monday morning and that was a mistake because people are still clearing the cobwebs from the weekend. Next time we'll do it in the middle of the week. Again, any comments that we receive today or even after this meeting, if anyone has the opportunity to watch this, hopefully it will be uploaded on our YouTube channel at a later point and if you want to submit any comments, please submit them to Not having heard anything else, Kirsten, you want to flip over to the next slide?

KIRSTEN B. MITCHELL:  That is the last slide, Alina.

ALINA M. SEMO:  Okay. Where are we say, Uncle Sam wants your ideas?


ALINA M. SEMO:  Right. Again, we invite everyone to visit OGIS’s website and social media for more information about all of our activities and how you can participate. At this point, unless Jason or Patricia or Kirsten have any parting words, I'm going to pause for a moment. Any parting words?

PATRICIA WETH:  I have none.

ALINA M. SEMO:  Okay. Jason, may be quiet for once, which is [01:36:25 inaudible]. Jason, any parting words?

JASON R. BARON:  No. Thanks very much Alina.

ALINA M. SEMO:  All right. Thank you and thanks to Kirsten, you did a wonderful job moderating. I want to thank everyone again for joining us. I hope everyone and their families remain safe, healthy, and resilient, and we will see you again for our kickoff meeting on the FOIA Advisory Committee on September 10th, which I predict will likely be virtual. Thanks everyone. Have a great rest of your week. Take care. [01:37:00 crosstalk].

MICHELLE [EVENT PRODUCER]:  That concludes our conference. Thank you for using Events Services. You may now disconnect.