[govinfo] FW: SIGN-ON by COB 6/2 - Letter to OPM re: FOIA Personnel Policies

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 15:09:19 -0400

FYI. Please send your sign-ons to Amy Fuller afuller at openthegovernment.org .
Patrice McDermott 
From: Amy Alyce Fuller [mailto:afuller@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 2:59 PM
To: FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: SIGN-ON by COB 6/2 - Letter to OPM re: FOIA Personnel Policies
In December 2008, as required by the OPEN Government Act, the Office of 
Personnel Management (OPM) released a report regarding personnel policies for 
FOIA professionals. Below is a letter for sign-on drafted by the National 
Security Archive requesting OPM reconsider the report in light of the new 
administration?s commitment to transparency. In particular, the letter urges 
OPM to gather additional input from the key stakeholders, including a range of 
agencies and professional societies, before making any further recommendations.
To add your organization, please respond directly to me by COB Tuesday, June 2.
Amy Fuller
The Honorable John Berry
United States Office of Personnel Management
Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20415-0001
Dear Mr. Berry:
The undersigned organizations and individuals concerned with government 
transparency write to request that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 
reconsider and revise its December 16, 2008, report issued pursuant to Section 
11 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007.  
The OPEN Government Act directed OPM to provide recommendations to Congress for 
improving personnel practices for employees who administer the Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA) in the federal government.  The report issued by OPM 
falls short of Congress? intentions and the expectations of both government 
FOIA professionals and members of the public who regularly file FOIA requests.  
On his first day in office, President Obama ?usher[ed] in a new era of 
openness? and committed his administration to greater transparency and 
accountability.  Without qualified, committed FOIA personnel, these promises 
will not be realized.  
The December 16 report fails to recommend any action by OPM, but rather 
suggests a continuation of the status quo.  Although many of the current 
problems with FOIA administration lie with the agencies, OPM has leadership 
over personnel policies government-wide.  OPM?s own mission, as described on 
its Web site, includes ?[c]hampioning the Federal workforce,? ?[a]ttracting and 
developing the best people for Federal service,? ?[e]ncouraging professional 
development and recognition opportunities,? and ?[a]dvocating for innovating 
human resources practices.?  OPM can take action to raise the caliber of the 
FOIA workforce, attract and maintain trained individuals in FOIA positions, and 
compel other federal employees to consider information disclosure as part of 
their job description.  OPM should fulfill its mission and discharge its 
statutory obligations by devoting necessary attention to the unique needs of 
FOIA professionals, and the public at large that they serve. OPM should issue a 
revised report that seriously examines ?how FOIA can be better implemented at 
the agency level? by improving the standing and consideration of agency FOIA 
professionals in the personnel system.
We also call on OPM to gather additional input from the key stakeholders before 
making any further recommendations pursuant to the OPEN Government Act mandate. 
 The report states that OPM staff met with FOIA officials from two agencies.  
OPM should consult with a range of agencies?those with FOIA programs that are 
smaller, larger, centralized, and decentralized? and consider the issues and 
ideas raised by agencies in their FOIA Improvement Plans, submitted to the 
Department of Justice in 2006 pursuant to Executive Order 13,392, and 
subsequent reports on implementation of the executive order, which describe the 
FOIA personnel and resource challenges agencies face.
In addition to meeting with a wide range of agencies, OPM should consult as 
well as with representatives from the American Society of Access Professionals 
(ASAP), an independent organization for FOIA and privacy professionals.    OPM 
should also seek input from members of the FOIA requester and advocacy 
community, who interact with agency FOIA personnel on a daily basis and 
understand the implications of neglecting professional development and support 
for FOIA staff on government transparency and accountability.  
We appreciate your attention to these issues, and we look forward to working 
with you on developing new recommendations for improving FOIA personnel 
practices. Representatives of our organizations would be happy to meet with you 
or your staff to discuss our requests in more detail.
The National Security Archive

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