Ryan Carboni

The recent Muckrock interview does bring up an interesting point of reform.

Pro-active records distribution would be nice, but probably wouldn’t be feasible for the bulk of agency records, particularly emails. Though I think at the very least indices should be made available. Afterall, how do you know what to request specifically?

I think to simplify the redaction process, FOIA officers should be able to search through previously released requests first, to promote uniformity across redactions.

Edit: Also, Mexico’s Freedom of Information law is boss.

Shawn Musgrave

There are also several state FOI laws/provisions that we would love to see the federal FOIA emulate. The one that springs to mind is Texas, where an agency must specifically request authorization from the attorney general to withhold documents. It swaps the impetus onto the agency to make a case for redactions/withholdings rather than on the user to appeal them. Now, this can create bottlenecks at the state authorization level, but more agencies just release documents and avoid dubious redactions from the start. 

Ryan Carboni

I just discovered this web page: https://ogis.archives.gov/ogis-toolbox/Improving-FOIA.htm

Shawn Musgrave

OGIS is an understaffed and under-toothed but well-intentioned agency. I’d encourage anyone having difficulties with an agency to reach out to them, but realize that their mediations are not binding on a recalcitrant agency. 

-Shawn

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