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NARA names new FOIA ombudsman

National Archives and Records Administration

The office within the National Archives and Records Administration tasked with overseeing Freedom of Information Act activities across government has tapped Alina Semo as its new director.

Semo, who has served as NARA's director of litigation in the Office of General Counsel since March 2014, will take over as director of the Office of Government Information Services. OGIS was established under the OPEN Government Act of 2007 as the ombudsman between FOIA requesters and federal agencies.

The OGIS director's responsibilities include heading the FOIA Advisory Committee, reviewing and providing policy guidance for agencies, ensuring open government law compliance and mediating disputes between requesters and agencies.

Additionally, the OGIS director has the authority to issue advisory opinions if a resolution is not reached, and collaborates with the Congress and the president to improve FOIA implementation.

Semo brings 25 years of federal litigation experience to her new role. As NARA's director of litigation, she provided legal advice to agencies, helped revise NARA's FOIA regulations and worked with the FOIA Advisory Committee. Before joining NARA, Semo served as chief of the FOIA Litigation Unit for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's general counsel, where she helped implement litigation tracking systems and streamline legal and clerical processes.

From 1991 until 1999, she was a trial attorney in the Federal Programs Branch of the Department of Justice's Civil Division.

"Ms. Semo is a dedicated public servant who is uniquely qualified for this position," National Archivist David S. Ferriero said in a statement. "Her extensive experience with FOIA at both the administrative stage and in federal court litigation, knowledge of National Archives and commitment to open government will serve her well in her position as director of OGIS."

Semo takes over after previous director James Holzer, who headed the office for nine months, resigned in May.

Posted by Chase Gunter on Nov 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM


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