Recognizing the critical importance of the work performed by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act professionals across the government, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the creation of the Government Information Series during Sunshine Week 2012. This new job series specifically addresses the work performed by FOIA and Privacy Act professionals, which is a key element in recognizing the professional nature of their work.
The Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines highlighted the important work performed by FOIA professionals. Those professionals’ administration of the FOIA plays a vital role in maintaining the transparent and open government that is not only essential for government accountability, but is also integral to our country’s representative democracy. To distinguish the importance of their work, OPM recently created the Government Information Series, a new job category for FOIA and Privacy Act professionals, which will promote, “transparency as well as accountability in providing American citizens with easier access to more Government information.”
Government Information Specialists will be responsible for promoting accountability and transparency while safeguarding certain types of vital government information. Along with its announcement, OPM issued its Position Classification Flysheet for Government Information Series, 0306 (PDF) which defines the primary duties and responsibilities of the Government Information Specialist. In the occupational information section of the flysheet, OPM describes the Government Information Specialist as a person who is entrusted withl, “implementing policies and procedures to manage Government information and providing information-related assistance and services to the general public.”
The White House recognized that the establishment of the Government Information Series:
”elevate[s] the importance of the work performed by those in the Federal Government who are responsible for realizing the President’s vision of an open and transparent government.”
Maintaining a distinct job category for FOIA professionals will create greater professionalization of the FOIA and Privacy Act workforce which will increase agency efficiency and responsiveness, promote accountability, as well as further President Obama’s vision of, and the Attorney General Holder’s commitment to, a open and transparent government.