Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Recognizing FOIA professionals at DOJ Sunshine Week, is like Geico using Pinocchio as motivational speaker.

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - This past Monday, individuals from around the government and members of the public gathered in the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy Building to celebrate the start of Sunshine Week 2015. The annual event, held in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the issuance of Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines, to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of agency FOIA professionals.
Ironically, according to a new analysis of the administration’s FOIA data by the Associated Press, the Obama administration continued its less than stellar transparency record in 2014, breaking the previous year’s record for denying and censoring requests under the Freedom of Information Act.  Additionally, A Tuesday report from the Center for Effective Government, an open government advocacy group, analyzed 15 major agencies and found that most received unsatisfactory marks when it comes to processing requests, maintaining its disclosure rules, and updating its FOIA websites.
Then there is the current State Department scandal, over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account.  The state department  Iprocessed 23 percent of all requests and took, on average, 540 days to fill simple FOIA requests when the law dictates that it should take 20 days.
During Sunshine Week, Acting Associate Attorney General and Department of Justice Chief FOIA Officer Stuart Delery served as the keynote speaker and highlighted a number of FOIA initiatives undertaken at the Justice Department over the last year, including:
  • The FOIA Improvement Initiative a comprehensive review of FOIA operations at the Department’s thirty-seven components designed to share best practices and identify areas for improvement,
  • FOIA Training Modernization – OIP’s recently released suite of electronic FOIA training resources, designed for members of the federal workforce at every level, and
  • Best Practices Workshop Series – the ongoing series aimed at gathering together FOIA professionals from around the government, as well as civil society, to share experiences, lessons learned, and strategies for success on a variety of topics.

Based on aforementioned reports, the new initiatives sound hollow and just a waste of taxpayer money.
Agencies and members of the public were asked to submit nominations for six award categories. The following awards were presented by Acting Associate Attorney General Delery and Director Pustay:
  • Exceptional Service by a FOIA Professional: Martha Wagner Murphy (National Archives and Records Administration), Cynthia Floyd-Coleman (Environmental Protection Agency), and Manizheh Boehm (Federal Highway Administration)
  • Award for Exceptional FOIA Service by a Team of Agency Professionals: The Federal Highway Administration Headquarters Chief Counsel FOIA Team, the Department  of Agriculture FOIA Training Subcommittee, and the Office of Personnel Management FOIA Service Center team.
  • Lifetime Service Award: Debbie Verzi (Social Security Administration), and Brenda Dolan (Department of Commerce)
  • Excellence in Management: James Holzer (Department of Homeland Security), Michael Marquis (Department of Health and Human Services), and Kathy Ray (Department of Transportation)
  • Outstanding Contributions by a New Employee: Arnon Dayak (Food and Drug Administration), and Alexis Graves (Department of Agriculture)
  • Outstanding Customer Service: Roberta Parsons (Department of Commerce), Harriette Boyd (Department of Commerce), and Judith Lewis (Environmental Protection Agency)

Once again, based on results, the awards are tarnished, at best.


1 comment:

JL "Buzz" Aguirre said...

US sets new record for withholding government files: CSM http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0318/US-sets-new-record-for-withholding-government-files-video