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NARA's new FOIA ombudsman settles in

revolving door

James Holzer is the new head of the Office of Government and Information Services, an office inside the National Archives and Records Administration charged with oversight of agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and government-wide FOIA policies. His first day on the job was Aug. 10.

The post has been vacant since November 2014, when Miriam Nesbit, the first person to hold the job of OGIS director, retired from federal service.

"Dr. Holzer's experience administering FOIA and his demonstrated commitment to transparency will benefit OGIS, the National Archives, and the American public," National Archivist David S. Ferriero said in a statement.

Holzer comes to NARA from the Department of Homeland Security, where he served as senior director of FOIA operations and as an advisor to top DHS officials on Privacy Act and FOIA compliance. At DHS, Holzer implemented a system of tracking and managing FOIA requests made to the agency’s many large components at an enterprise level. Holzer served in the Air Force for 13 years before his work at DHS, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2007.

DHS has the busiest FOIA operation in the federal government, in large part because of demands for immigration data. FOIA processing at DHS was among the most improved in the federal government from 2014 to 2015, per a report by the Center for Effective Government. DHS was tabbed as a top performer for its disclosure rules and useful FOIA website. However, DHS ranked near the bottom for timely responses to FOIA requests and in its efforts to reduce its backlog, as well as for actually releasing information to requestors.

The OGIS director also serves as chair of the FOIA Advisory Committee, a group that mixes government officials and representatives of the requestor community, including nonprofit government watchdog groups, journalists and others, which is charged with developing policy recommendations. The job also includes providing mediation services between agencies and requestors to resolve disputes outside of the courts.

Ferriero also announced the appointment of Oliver Potts as director of the Federal Register, which manages the production and publication of proposed federal regulations, public meeting notices, executive orders and other documents. Potts also assumed his new duties Aug. 10.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 10, 2015 at 10:37 AM


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