Posts Tagged ‘OGIS’

Mexico and Norway: Government transparency through technology

A vital aspect of success in freedom of information is the transition from the paper age to digital. While the United States was once a leader in freedom of information legislation and implementation, we still remain somewhat rooted in backlogs and delays, much of which could be solved.  The Office of Government Information Services is working to rectify this. OGIS is working with government agencies to move documents  online and make access to public documents consistent across agencies. The agency also has an online database where people can view cases that have been filed with OGIS, along with the case’s progress and results.

Two countries for OGIS to study in the move toward online transparency are Mexico and Norway. Both have already made significant progress with adapting their respective laws to the digital age.  In Mexico, where official freedom of information laws are only a decade old, there are INFO-DF and INFOMEX-DF. These websites allow interested parties in any country online access to public documents and search through previous FOI requests and the government’s response.

While it would be easy to point to Mexico’s relatively recent freedom of information laws, Norway’s public records law was implemented in 1970, with an update in 2003. Norway’s website is similar to Mexico’s, with information available for the public to access and share. They’ve also made public information available via Twitter. Additionally, the site boasts a Data hotel, where public bodies can more easily make information accessible online.

Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

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FOI Tip of the Week: FOIA fee cheat sheet

This is the first of our weekly tips for all things FOI. These posts can help reporters and other citizens in their quest for information, whether they are pursuing records at the local, state or federal level.

FOIA fees can be tricky, especially when dealing with the federal government. It’s not just those searching for records who get confused, but also the officials expected to fill their requests.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Information Policy (OIP) held a summit May 17 to clear up some of the biggest fee-related issues for federal employees.

While there are plenty of twists and turns that citizens may encounter when requesting access to public records, fees are one of the most important concerns because they can be taxing on requesters’ wallets as well as their patience.

The Office of Government Information Services provides a simple but handy chart that explains key differences between fee and requester categories for FOIA.

It should be of help in assessing the basic fee requirements you may face when requesting records from the federal government.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


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