2019 Sunshine Week Event

2019 Sunshine Week Event


Melanie Pustay: Thank you, please be seated. Good morning everyone, my name is Melanie
Pustay and I’m the Director of the Office of Information Policy here at the Department
of Justice. I want to welcome everyone once again for
our annual Sunshine Week celebration and I want to thank our wonderful singer for that
beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Give her a round of applause. This Sunshine Week marks the tenth anniversary
of the issuance of the Department of Justice FOIA guidelines. The Department of Justice has had a special
rule in FOIA administration from the very beginning. Way back in 1967, when the FOIA first became
effective, the Attorney General issued guidance to all agencies to assist them in implementing
the statute. The Attorney General said “Nothing so diminishes
democracy as secrecy.” He went on to say, “If intelligent and purposeful
action is taken, the FOIA can serve the highest ideals of a free society, as well as the goals
of a well administered government.” Decades later, the Department of Justice’s
own FOIA guidelines stress that FOIA reflects our fundamental commitment to open government
and that the responsibility for effective FOIA administration belongs to all of us. Leading those efforts at each agency is the
chief FOIA officer. And this morning I’m very pleased and honored
to introduce to you the government’s highest ranking chief FOIA officer, Mr. Jesse Panuccio,
who’s the principal Deputy Associate Attorney General of the United States. This is the third Sunshine Week celebration
where we’ve been fortunate enough to have Mr. Panuccio join us. Prior to coming to the Department, Mr. Panuccio
held a number of roles. In both private practice and public service
including several positions in the state of Florida, Which is known as the sunshine state,
And for reasons beyond its weather. It has its own strong Access to Information
law which is obviously very wonderful as a background for his current role as the DOJ
chief FOIA officer. Mr. Panuccio, thank you for joining us today
to kick off our event. Jesse Panuccio: well Thank you very much,
Melanie, for that introduction and FOIA exemplary leadership on government transparency. I have now had the pleasure of working with
you for more than two years on these issues, and as you said this is our third Sunshine
Week together that weve kicked off together . Thank you FOIA tireless and excellent work
as a government leader on Freedom of Information Act policy and administration. The American people are very fortunate to
have you in their service. Thabk you
The same holds true for the many professionals here today who have devoted their careers
to government transparency. Welcome, all, to the Department of Justice. We are so pleased you could join us for this
year’s kick-off event of Sunshine Week. This week is an opportunity for us to recognize
the importance of transparency in government and the many contributions of civil servants
dedicated to that goal. You should be proud that you are stewards
of a great tradition. One of the underpinnings of our republican
government, in which the people are sovereign, is that the public has both a right and a
need for information about the affairs of state. The connection between transparency and good
government is a pillar of our political philosophy—an idea that permeated Founding-era thought. For example, the great political philosopher
and economist Jeremy Bentham, in his 1791 Essay on Political Tactics, devoted the second
chapter to discussing what he called the idea “Of Publicity.” He explained that publicity of government
proceedings is “the fittest law for securing the public confidence, and causing it constantly
to advance towards the ends of its institution.” “The efficacy of this great instrument,”—publicity—Bentham
said, “extends to everything—legislation, administration, judicature.” “Without publicity,” Bentham warned, “no
good is permanent: under the auspices of publicity, no evil can continue.” Bentham outlined the many benefits of openness
in government: it constrains government officials to perform their duty; it secures the confidence
of the people, and their assent to the measures of government; it enables the governors to
know the wishes of the governed; it enables the electors to “act from knowledge” in
casting their ballots for representatives; and it provides government officials “the
means of profiting by the information of the public.” Across the Atlantic, American revolutionaries
sounded the same theme. Patrick Henry, for example, declared to the
1788 Virginia Ratifying Convention that one of his objections to the proposed Constitution
was that it did not mandate sufficient publicity of Congressional proceedings. He argued that the “liberties of a people
never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed
from them.” Although that first generation of Americans
fostered accountability in their new federal government through a number of constitutional
provisions, Patrick Henry was perhaps prescient in realizing that a free people might ultimately
demand more information about the affairs of government. The 1967 Freedom of Information Act represents
one great advancement towards that end. The FOIA, with its Congressional exemption,
might not have fully satisfied Henry. He was, after all, objecting to the lack of
required publicity for the legislative branch. But the FOIA nonetheless has become a powerful
tool in ensuring Americans have access to a broad swath of government information. Today, those who use FOIA run the gamut from
traditional news media, to newer online-only media outlets, to advocacy organizations,
to—most importantly—individual citizens. We have seen, time and again, government officials
and programs held accountable and made better based on records sought by ordinary citizens. Now, this is not to say that any and all information
held by the government should become public on demand. Even Patrick Henry, in his animated plea to
the Virginia Ratifying Convention, recognized that while it is “an abomination . . . to
cover, with the veil of secrecy, the common routine of business,” some government information,
such as that relating to “military operations or affairs of great consequence” must be
kept secret until “the end which required their secrecy should have been effected.” The FOIA, with its exemptions for certain
sensitive information, attempts to strike this balance. The difficult but critical work of policing
these boundaries falls to you, the federal government’s FOIA professionals. We know the burden of that work grows by the
day. Each year, we set a new record for the number
of FOIA requests. Just this past fiscal year, the Department
of Justice received more than 96,000 requests, an increase of 12,000 from the prior year. Every request is important, and a great number
of them come from individual Americans seeking records relating to their own interactions
with government. Unfortunately, as with everything in life,
there are excesses, and those excesses strain the system. Some groups have turned FOIA into a means
of generating attorneys’ fees or of attempting to shut down policymaking. Immediate litigation has become a feature
of FOIA administration rather than a last resort, and the result is often that large
and complex requests by institutional actors are moved, by court order, ahead of requests
by average citizens. It is you, the FOIA professionals, who have
to manage these and many other challenges to ensure that the FOIA is still a vibrant
means of ensuring government transparency. Given the demand and importance of this work,
during Sunshine Week the Department takes a moment to thank the devoted professionals
across agencies who perform the endless, sometimes painstaking work of processing FOIA requests. Your burdens are weightier than ever, but
your professionalism endures. Please know that we appreciate you and the
work you do in helping secure the liberty promised at our Founding through accountable
government. We will later recognize the outstanding work
of some of our colleagues, and we hope their work will serve as an inspiration to all who
hold positions of public trust. For my part, I’d like to take a moment to
recognize Jeff Hall, a senior counsel in my office who has done outstanding work on FOIA
issues for the last two years. Here at the Department of Justice, we take
seriously our responsibility to encourage government-wide compliance with FOIA. We must all continually review our policies
and practices to ensure that records are released lawfully and efficiently. I have taken great pride in serving as the
Department’s Chief FOIA Officer and ensuring that our FOIA programs are equipped to handle
the Department’s FOIA responsibilities. Since our 2009 FOIA Guidelines were issued,
the Department has emphasized that improving FOIA performance requires the active participation
of Chief FOIA Officers. Earlier this year, I issued a memorandum to
all agency General Counsels and Chief FOIA Officers stressing this point and asking that
all agencies ensure what’s required by statute, which is that high-ranking officers serve
as the Chief FOIA Officers. Another effort worth highlighting is the work
of the Department on the National FOIA Portal, which was mandated by the FOIA Improvement
Act of 2016. Last year during Sunshine Week, we were pleased
to announce the development of the Portal on FOIA.gov, where a member of the public
can now make a request to any agency from this single website. Since the release of the National FOIA Portal,
FOIA.gov has received over a million page views and nearly 9,000 requests have been
submitted to various agencies through that website. I want to thank all the agencies that worked
with us to achieve that initial level of interoperability with the Portal. This significant IT project was completed
on schedule and worked from the very beginning. It should serve as an example to the rest
of government. Building on these efforts, just last month
DOJ and OMB issued joint guidance to agencies on becoming fully interoperable with the Portal. This joint directive provides two ways for
agencies to achieve full interoperability based on how they are currently tracking and
managing their FOIA requests. As we continue to improve FOIA.gov, we welcome
any feedback from both agencies and requesters. These are just a few of the accomplishments
of the last year. Our work to make government transparent and
accountable continues, and our appreciation FOIA efforts to achieve this goal continues. As a closing thought, I’ll leave you with
the wisdom of Bentham: “of two governments, one of which should be conducted secretly
and the other openly, the latter would possess a strength, a hardihood, and a reputation
which would render it superior to all dissimulations of the other.” Thank you very much, and enjoy sunshine week. .
Melanie Pustay: Thank you so much. It means so much to all of us to have you
here at our event every year. As Mr. Panuccio discussed, the role of the
agency FOIA officer is crucial and the Department of Justice FOIA guidelines emphasize that
important point. Every year we ask agencies through, their
chief FOIA officer reports to give us a description of the steps they’ve taken each year to fulfill
the five key pillars of the DOJ FOIA guidelines: The focus on the presumption of openness,
the importance of proactive disclosures, improving timeliness and reducing backlogs, As well
as maximizing technology and creating efficient, effective systems to respond to FOIA requests. The agencies are in the process of finalizing
their 2019 chief FOIA officer reports that contain a detailed description of all those
efforts and I encourage you all to read those reports as they’re posted by agencies. What we can say though from our initial review
of the reports is that in the face of high demand and increasingly complex requests,
agencies are continuing to take steps to improve their process. They’re finding and developing technological
tools. They’re conducting outreach with the requester
community. And they’re identifying ways to make proactive
disclosures and to make the information on their websites more usable to the public. There are a wealth of examples in the chief
FOIA officer reports and I really recommend that everyone read them and that agencies
look at the reports of their fellow colleagues to find successes that can be translated to
their own work in the FOIA. Now here at the Department of Justice we’re
very proud of the special role that we play in encouraging all of you to implement the
FOIA. I’d like to take a moment to highlight some
of the work of OIP as well as some of the work of the agencies this past year. With that we’re going to move to our slideshow. As you can see, from last year we had a record
number of FOIA request across the government and as Mr. Panuccio remarked we’ve had a steady
increase over time in both received and processed requests, with last year the government overall
processing more than 800,000 requests. We’re well on pace to exceed that number
for fiscal year 18. We predict now that we will have, yet again,
record high numbers of requests received and processed across the government. At OIP as part of our work to help agencies
tackle that great demand, we do a number of things: we conduct training programs where
we train thousands of professionals across the government every year, we provide advice
to agencies responding to over thirteen hundred calls for assistance, and of course we issue
policy guidance on a range of topics. Our most recent policy guidance was on adjudicating
administrative appeals under the FOIA. This is a mechanism that’s built into the
statute that allows a requester to have a second look at the action taken on their request. Our guidance stresses the importance of agency
regulations, including appeal procedures, within them of making sure that appeals are
conducted on an independent, de novo review, that appeals officials engage with FOIA professionals
and use the appeal process is a way to reinforce sound processing practices. We also point out that it’s important that
there be an adequate administrative record on certain issues associated with FOIA, that
the appeals process is a way to communicate effectively with requesters, and we also recommend
to agencies that they offer requesters the opportunity to appeal interim responses. Lastly, our appeals guidance, based on our
longstanding role as the agency that receives the most FOIA appeals across the government,
we know firsthand how of how an effective appeal process can improve FOIA administration,
so we have some tips and our guidance about quality control and best practices for managing
your appeals. Now, in addition to the formal appeal process,
of course every agency day in and day out interacts with FOIA requesters through their
more informal mechanisms, like their FOIA requester service centers and their FOIA public
liaisons. We issued guidance on the important roles
that these two resources fill. Their role was emphasized and it played a
big part in the 2016 FOIA amendments. Our guidance details the responsibilities
of these two resources and the importance of maintaining good contact information and
being accessible to help requesters at any stage of the process. Now, on occasion we also will issue guidance
on very discreet issues that arise in the course of our work and this past year we had
one such guidance where we teamed with our Information Security Oversight office and
NARA and we issued a joint memo on treatment of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). We issued guidance on treating that information,
de-controlling it essentially after it has been released in response to a FOIA request. Now we’ve been talking so much about the chief
FOIA officer reports that agencies submit each year. One of the things that OIP does with those
reports is review them very thoroughly. We then can create a summary and we conduct
an assessment of agencies so we can see how agencies have done in the preceding year. We then issue guidance to agencies for improvements
in the year forward. We went through that process in 2018 and are
trying to stress the importance of strategically managing backlogs, as agencies are increasingly
struggling with high numbers of incoming requests. We think it’s important to find ways to achieve
backlog success in a variety of ways, focusing on your ten oldest for instance, utilizing
multiple processing tracks, managing the backlog so that you can find success. And then as Mr. Panuccio emphasized in his
remarks, the highlight of our year was the issuance with OMB of our joint interoperability
guidance for interaction with that national FOIA portal. There are two main ways that agencies can
become interoperable with the portal, depending on whether or not they have automated or non-automated
case management systems. The presumption will be though that all those
agencies with automated case management systems will be required to achieve interoperability
with the national FOIA portal by using an application programming interface or API,
which is basically a bridge between two technological systems. The additional highlights of the joint memo
with OMB is that agencies are all required to make sure that the information they maintain
on FOIA.gov, their Mission statement, their FOIA regulations, their FOIA reference materials
are all kept up-to-date, and that every year agency certify OIP that they reviewed that
information and that it is all accurate and up-to-date. We have a range of other resources available
on our website that are designed to help agencies. Just to highlight a couple things, every year
there are several hundred FOIA Decisions that are rendered by courts as a result of FOIA
litigation. We create summaries of those decisions and
post them on a dedicated page on our website so that everyone can keep abreast of what’s
happening in FOIA case law. Now of course that’s the work of OIP. We do that to help all of you. Agencies in turn have a number of initiatives
and successes and I’d like to highlight several of those based on our initial review of the
2019 chief FOIA officer reports. We had a couple agencies who have a very nice
example of doing outreach with the requester community. This is something that we have emphasized
for quite some time; the value of good communication, the value of increasing understanding between
agencies and requesters, and USDA and GSA both reported strong initiatives in that regard. We had multiple agencies that used OIP’s
FOIA self-assessment tool kit in-depth review of their four year processes and look for
ways to find improvement. As a result of that we had a very nice success
story from the Merit Systems Protection Board where they did a self-assessment And then
set new processing goals, tracked metrics, had bi-weekly hands-on meetings and ended
up with a 33% reduction in their backlog— something I think that many other agencies
would love to be able to accomplish. Agencies have always embraced proactive disclosures,
this has always been a highlight of the chief FOIA officer reports, and we once again had
lots of great examples of proactive disclosures being made by agencies. The Peace Corps for example post country impact
studies and policies and reports they can all be search by topic, by year, by country. The Federal Trade Commission posted an independent
privacy assessment and correspondence between FTC and Facebook as a result of the intense
public interest that topic had been generating. The Securities and Exchange Commission launched
an invention investor protection search tool on their website and it’s intended to help
the public make informed investment decisions and to avoid insurance fraud. And in addition to just posting material,
agencies are always looking for ways to make posted material more useful and more helpful
to the public. We have an example here where the Corporation
for National and Community Service redesigned its website to make it easier to find crucial
information and they have seen 180% increase in traffic to their website since they’ve
launched it. EPA is continuing to make a lot of environmental
information available on its websites. And of course we had lots of reports of agencies
using advanced technology to help both with searching for electronic documents in particular
emails, for duplicating documents and collaborating across agencies. Several agencies are actually going a step
further; the Department of State is looking at a cloud-based e-records system that will
allow their entire FOIA operation to take place on one platform. The Department of Defense, our worldwide agency
with FOIA offices literally across the globe, is looking at an enterprise-wide FOIA solution,
with the hope that they could implement that which would create incredible benefits and
consistency across that big operation. So we always look forward to agencies doing
their work to continue to find efficiencies, use technology, make proactive disclosures
and at the heart of all of those efforts are the FOIA professionals. And that’s really why we’re here today and
why we take such pride in our Sunshine Week celebration because it’s every day, the work
of the people on the front lines in FOIA administration. You’re the ones that make the process work
and we’re very happy to be able to present our awards to some very well-deserving officials
in just a moment. Thank you all. While FOIA may be everyone’s responsibility,
in the words of the DOJ FOIA guidelines, it’s the FOIA professionals who regularly engage
with requesters day in and day out. They’re the ones that help realize FOIA’s
aim of a more well-informed citizenry. The Department has long recognized the critical
importance of FOIA professionals who are responsible for this day to day implementation of the
law. I feel really fortunate to know and work with
so many FOIA professionals across the government. And I can attest to the dedication that they
bring to this task. They are the heart of the critical services
that agencies provide to the American people each and every day. I’m pleased to once again dedicate our celebration
here to those often-unsung heroes of the FOIA world. Our first award today is for outstanding contributions
by a new employee. This award recognizes exceptional performance
and notable contributions in carrying out the agency’s FOIA responsibilities by an employee
who has fewer than three years of work in FOIA. And we have two awards in this category. The first award goes to Jeremiah Parker from
the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Parker began his FOIA professional career
in June 2018, processing requests for DHS’s Office of Biometric Identity Management. He immediately showed the ability to pick
up tasks quickly and complete them with efficiency and accuracy. From June to September he processed over 1600
FOIA requests. His processing rates are consistently at the
top with his peers. During this time Mr. Parker also assisted
the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, and Customs and Border Protection
or CBP. He helped those two offices close up to 7000
requests for just the period of July to September. Mr. Parker came to DHS with little FOIA experience
but that has not stopped him from ascending to the top as a FOIA producer. Joining us in recognizing Mr. Parker is Mr.
Jimmy Wulfrie. Mr. Parker, I want to thank you for your exceptional
service and I’m holding out my awards here. Our second award in this category goes to
Sara Nekou from the Office of Government Ethics. The Office of Government Ethics has received
an unprecedented 450% increase. I emphasize that, it’s quite daunting just
even hear it. 450% increase in incoming FOIA requests. In January of 2018 Ms. Nekou arrived at OGE
with a mandate to reduce the backlog. In the course of the past year, she closed
seventy-one of OGE’s largest and most complex requests, including forty-two backlog requests
from fiscal year 2017. Thanks in large part to her efforts, OGE reduced
its backlog by approximately 56%. Joining us in recognizing Ms. Nekou is Ms.
Diana Thieu. I want to— Ms. Nekou, I’d like to thank
you for your exceptional service. Our next award recognizes exemplary performance
and exceptional contributions by a FOIA professional in carrying out the agency’s administration
of the FOIA. We have two awards in this category. Our first award goes to Ruthann Parise from
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Ms. Parise has performed with exceptional
skill, speed, and diligence in thirteen FOIA litigation cases this past year. She independently prepared documents and reviewed
documents for disclosure. Her Thoroughness and precision in doing this
work drastically streamlined the process. Ms. Parise’s analysis provided a fresh perspective
and allowed FEMA to improve its volume indices and declarations provided in support of litigation. Her persistent pursuit of the highest quality
work has significantly advanced FEMA’s FOIA operations. Ms. Parise could not join us today, she’s
currently on a FEMA deployment. But joining us in accepting this award on
her behalf is Mr. Bill Holesler. Our second award in this category goes to
Robin Carl and Katherine Carpenter from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Ms. Carl and Ms. Carpenter’s outstanding
contributions have promoted government transparency and benefited BOP’s western region FOIA administration. Together Ms. Carl and Ms. Carpenter turned
one of the lowest producing offices at BOP into the most productive. As a result of their efforts, the western
region’s backlog of request was reduced from triple to single digits. Their unique and complimentary skill sets
reformed the western region’s FOIA office and made it a model program for BOP. Ms. Carl and Ms. Carpenter could not physically
join us from California today but we certainly hope they’re viewing us on livestream. And joining us in accepting the award on their
behalf is Ms. Linda Beau. Our next award category is for exceptional
service by a team of professionals, and we have three awards in this category. The first award goes to the naval criminal
investigative service FOIA team. The NCIS FOIA team has demonstrated within
the past year an exceptional and unwavering commitment to government transparency. Responsible for one of the busiest FOIA programs
in the department of the Navy, NCIS reduced its backlog of requests by 23% and its backlog
of appeals by 48%. Statistics alone do not fully measure the
excellent work of this team as they managed to process cases that were often remarkably
difficult and complex. The team further increased the public’s assets
access to information, they proactively posted documents of interest to the public and they
implemented technology to process frequently requested audio-visual records. Joining us in recognizing the NCIS team is
Mr. Mark Ruess. I want to just give you that the names of
all the people on the team, because they are certainly worthy of acknowledgement: Karen
Richmond. Aaron Ruberge, Mindy Davis, Crystal Scott,
Patricia Ross, Shelley Moore, and Erin Beeman. Thank you to the team. Our second team award goes to the FOIA team
at the Air Force Declassification Office. This team’s review of FOIA records for declassification
arguably involves some of the most difficult FOIA cases: The records involving classified
historical cases where subject matter experts are no longer readily available. The long-term experience of this team with
both the declassification and Air Force history has made them an invaluable part of the Air
Force’s program. The team also provides important training
on declassification review both within the air force and throughout the Department of
Defense. Please join us in welcoming the members of
the Air Force Declassification Office for their accomplishments in performing FOIA reviews
of classified historical documents and providing declassification training to FOIA reviewers
throughout the government. The team consists of Winston Beauchamp, Jason
Stanley, Michael Bender, Eugene Champion, George Gordon, Jeff Hunter and Sarah Mayclout. Thank you to the team. Our third award in this category goes to the
FOIA team at the Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska. The team at the Alaska district created a
comprehensive FOIA program that produced results and is lauded as a best practice in the Pacific
Ocean region. The team transformed this program by embedding
FOIA party each employee’s work and records management. Fully embracing the principle that FOIA is
everyone’s responsibility, the team provides training to each individual office tailored
to the type of records they handle. The team also focuses on establishing relationships
with records custodians so that they can administer the FOIA as efficiently and effectively as
possible. Through their efforts, the Alaska division
has made FOIA part of its core mission. Now the Alaska team could not join us today
at our nice, sunny Sunshine Week celebration, but again we trust that they’re watching on
live stream and we thank them for their exceptional service to FOIA administration. Our next award category is for exceptional
advancements in the area of IT to improve FOIA administration. This award recognizes exceptional achievements
in utilizing technology to make information more accessible. We are very proud to be able to present this
award to our team here at the Department of Justice, within our Justice Management Division’s
Office of the Chief Information Officer. They have been, as you heard the Associate
Attorney General discuss, absolutely indispensable and critical to the development of the national
FOIA portal that now resides on FOIA.gov. With no additional resources, the team enthusiastically
took on the additional responsibilities associated with the revamped FOIA.gov and immediately
began working on improvements that would offer both agencies and requesters improved functionality
and even better user experience. In addition to assisting agencies and FOIA
case management providers with the APA that’s required to become interoperable with the
portal, the team has helped to improve the functionality of the request forms on FOIA.gov
as well as the delivery mechanism that is used to transmit requests from the portal
to agencies. Based on popular feedback, the team also developed
new functionality that allows you to download real-time, up-to-date FOIA contact information
for all agencies in a single download. We are looking forward to continuing to improve
on FOIA.gov and our work would not be Possible without the incredible support we have from
our IT team. In particular we are recognizing David Todd,
Daphne Shy, Kathy Flanagan, and Stephen Fanning. To the IT awardees. Our next award category and our final award,
but our most important one, is the lifetime service in FOIA administration award. It’s a little bit bittersweet, I think,
for many of us in the room when we see who’s on the stage to accept it. The lifetime service award recognizes those
professionals with at least twenty years of work in FOIA who have demonstrated high standards
of excellence and dedication throughout their career. This year our lifetime service award goes
to Jim Hogan. Mr. Hogan is currently the chief of DOD FOIA
policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Directorate for Oversight and Compliance. Mr. Hogan’s FOIA career began in 1995 when
he was assigned to the Secretary of Defense’s FOIA team, Right at the Pentagon, when he
was assigned as an active duty air force officer, I have a particular affinity for Mr. Hogan
because of his Air Force connection. As an air force action officer, Mr. Hogan
processed thousands of FOIA requests and appeals for records related to topics such as D.O.D.
involvement in the siege at Waco and the shooting down of black hawk helicopters in Somalia. Mr. Hogan’s military experience flying special
operations support missions over Central America in the 1980s served him particularly well
in understanding the sensitivities of the Black Hawk records he reviewed. Mr. Hogan was also instrumental in the development
and implementation of the D.O.D. FOIA improvement plan in 2006 which led to
a 43% Decrease in DOD’s FOIA backlog between 2009 and 2013. Since 2006 Mr. Hogan has served DOD as FOIA
public liaison, and he has helped many hundreds of FOIA requesters with their requests. An experienced FOIA instructor, Mr. Hogan
has taught FOIA classes to thousands of participants across the Department of Defense and across
other agencies. Perhaps paramount to Mr. Hogan’s accomplishments
is his focus on providing policy guidance and advice within DOD. He firmly believes that to do that he must
be familiar with the issues that the FOIA professionals face out in the field. He therefore makes sure that he is accessible
to them all the time. His accomplishments over the 24 years have
contributed greatly to the success and world renown of DOD’S FOIA program. Join us in recognizing Mr. Hogan. And Mr. Hogan, with bittersweet feelings I
want to honor you with this lifetime achievement award. I want to thank all of our award recipients
for their many contributions to FOIA administration. Sunshine Week is an opportunity to reflect
upon our accomplishments as we continue our efforts collectively to realize the promise
of FOIA to create a more informed citizenry. As we highlighted today at the core of those
efforts are the many FOIA professionals across the government who worked tirelessly each
and every day to make FOIA a reality. Through their innovations, their greater use
of technology, their training, their outreach to the public, these FOIA professionals, all
of you, are really making a difference. It’s something that I think we can all be
very proud of. This concludes our event today, and I wish
everyone a very happy and sunny Sunshine Week. Thanks.

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