FOIA 101: Understanding the Freedom of Information Act
1 PM EST
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute that governs which federal agency records are releasable to the public. This primer provides an overview of the federal FOIA and the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, and will help those within and outside of the government understand the requirements involved in the disclosure of public records. Topics will include:
• The types of records sought and which records are subject to FOIA,
• Who is subject to FOIA (and who is not),
• Who can make a FOIA request,
• The most common FOIA exemptions,
• FOIA fees, who is subject to them, and fee waivers, and
• Tips for filing FOIA requests.
** Please note – this program will not cover state FOIA issues.
Synta Keeling is the Assistant General Counsel for the FOIA Branch of the National Labor Relations Board. As the FOIA Officer, she oversees the handling of FOIA requests and FOIA appeals, provides agency-wide guidance, and creates and implements regulations, policies, practices, and training to ensure compliance with the FOIA. A Virginia licensed attorney, Ms. Keeling received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary.
Deirdre MacNeil, former FOIA Branch Chief, National Labor Relations Board. Ms. MacNeil is the 2017 Department of Justice's Lifetime Service Award recipient for excellence and dedication to the administration of the FOIA throughout her career, as recognized by the NLRB. Prior to her time at the NLRB, Ms. MacNeil had FOIA duties in a management position for FEMA, in the Offices of the Inspector General at both the Department of Agriculture and at HUD, and for the Small Business Administration. Retired now from federal service, Ms. MacNeil is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a graduate of the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, and of Skidmore College.
Patricia Weth is the Deputy Assistant General Counsel for the FOIA Branch of the National Labor Relations Board and serves as the FOIA Public Liaison. Previously, Ms. Weth was a FOIA attorney with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Export Import Bank, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additionally, she has experience handling FOIA requests for state and local governments. Ms. Weth received her law degree from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and holds a B.A. degree from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.