The following is a message sent by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:
US Archivist David S. Ferriero announced the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee completed its final report and recommendations. The report may be read at https://www.archives.gov/files/final-report-and-recommendations-of-2016-2018-foia-advisory-committee.pdf. The committee took 2-years to complete its work. While there were government officials, FOIA government officers, lawyers, history professors, and consumer advocates there were no genealogists on the committee.
Some of the issues the recommendations are directed at include: promoting the proactive disclosure of records, improving agencies’ ability to identify responsive digital records, and reinforcing that FOIA is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of full-time FOIA professionals.
The National Archives and Records Administration is charged with identifying, protecting, preserving and making publicly available the historically valuable records of all three branches of government.
To read Archivist Ferriero’s blog post see: https://aotus.blogs.archives.gov/2018/06/14/improving-the-administration-of-foia/. There will be a new committee for 2018-2020 and nominations were being accepted through June 1, 2018. The Archivist will be announcing those appointments during this summer.
State and local government agencies also have Freedom of Information laws. Search your local and state agencies for their rules on accessing government documents through FOIA laws.