NARA Names Director of Office of Government Information Services

This week, Acting Archivist of the United States Adrienne Thomas announced the appointment of Miriam Nisbet as the director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) within the National Archives and Records Administration. OGIS, an organization newly established under the OPEN Government Act of 2007, will provide policy guidance and mediation services for FOIA activities government-wide.

The OGIS Director is responsible for reviewing policies and procedures of administrative agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); reviewing compliance with FOIA by administrative agencies; and recommending policy changes to Congress and the President to improve the administration of FOIA. The Director also is responsible for offering mediation services to resolve disputes between persons making FOIA requests and administrative agencies, and may issue advisory opinions if mediation has not resolved the dispute.

In his FY 2010 budget, President Obama requested $1.4 million and 6 FTE to staff and operate the Office of Government Information Services.

Since 2007, Ms. Nisbet has been Director of the Information Society Division of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), located in Paris. She is responsible for two major UNESCO programs: Information for All and Memory of the World. Her division also supports libraries and archives, particularly in developing countries, and promotes the use of information and communication technologies for education, science, culture and development.

Prior to her UNESCO appointment, Ms. Nisbet was the legislative counsel at the American Library Association where she was responsible for intellectual property issues raised by the digital information environment. She advised the association on legislation in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and advocated on behalf of libraries, educational institutions and the public in such matters.

As Special Counsel for Information Policy at the National Archives from 1994 to 1999, Ms. Nisbet advised the Archivist of the United States and other Archives and Federal agency officials on legal issues concerning the Federal Records Act, the presidential Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Privacy Act, among others. She assessed, developed, and implemented policy and guidance regarding access to and management of government information and records including electronic records.
In 1982 Ms. Nisbet was appointed Deputy Director of the Office Information and Privacy at the Department of Justice, where she was responsible for final action on whether Justice Department records could be opened under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. She also provided training and guidance on FOIA interpretation, policy and administration.

Ms. Nisbet is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and was awarded a J.D. from the University of North Carolina as well.