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House hearing focuses on improving access to federal records

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  1. Freedom of Information
A week after the Obama administration issued new open government initiatives, a congressional panel heard testimony Wednesday to consider whether…

A week after the Obama administration issued new open government initiatives, a congressional panel heard testimony Wednesday to consider whether the National Archives and Records Administration is meeting its mission to provide public access to federal records.

Subcommittee Chairman William "Lacy" Clay, D-Mo., expressed concern that the archive’s focus on museum exhibits may be draining resources and manpower from its larger mission of increasing government openness, Federal News Radio reported.

Head archivist David Ferriero said the recently opened Office of Government Information Services, which is housed within the archives, will likely allay Clay’s concerns.

OGIS, which opened in September, was created when the Freedom of Information Act was amended in 2007 to mediate disputes between agencies and requesters — both at the archives and elsewhere — and identify "technological solutions" to help manage freedom of information request backlogs, Federal News Radio reported.

To best meet public access goals, "the Archivist must embrace OGIS’s active engagement with other agencies and the public," Kevin Goldberg said in testimony to Congress on behalf of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups promoting openness and accountability in government.