The ongoing saga of the State Department's reassignment of former top employees to perform what they claim are mundane FOIA duties continues. The Hill has this on top Congressional Democrats seeking answers from the State Department on the moves.
Here are my points on the story:
- Doing FOIA work should never be considered a "punishment." The FOIA is the way we find out what are government is up to.
- The State Department has for years during multiple administrations neglected FOIA. They continue to do so.
- The most effective way to process FOIA requests is to hire experienced FOIA professionals and let them make all of the processing decisions.
- The State Department's individual program offices have failed to assist the department's statutory duties under FOIA for many years (i.e. agencies have 20 business days to process a requests, the FOIA office often has to wait months for the program offices to search for and give them the needed documents.)
- My takeaway- emphasis on FOIA is good, but those who have no FOIA experience are not the way to get there - hiring employees who have FOIA experience is the way to get there.