The National Archives announced Wednesday it has filled the newly created position of FOIA ombudsman for the federal government, a role open government advocates hope will help resolve access disputes.
Miram Nisbet has been hired to head the Office of Government Information Services, which is housed at the National Archives and Records Administration. The ombudsman’s office was created by the 2007 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act to be an intermediary between government agencies and requesters.
“She is extremely qualified for the position,” said Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee. “We look forward to working with her as OGIS develops a framework for resolving FOIA disputes.”
Nisbet has been the director of the Information Society Division of UNESCO, based in Paris, since 2007. Prior to that she worked as a legislative counsel for the American Library Association and as a special counsel for information policy at the National Archives.
The Reporters Committee is part of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, which strongly advocated for Congress to create the new office.
Rick Blum, the coalition’s director, also praised the appointment.
"While the federal FOIA mediator’s office is still a long way from mediating its first FOIA dispute, it took a strong step forward today with the naming of its new director, Miriam Nisbet,” Blum said. “She’s a long-time advocate for open government, and this is a promising start for those who want the FOIA to work better."
Nisbet will be charged with getting the office started, including hiring staff. NARA has requested about $1.8 million in funding for OGIS for the upcoming fiscal year.