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Dispute Resolution Skills Training

Dispute Resolution Skills Training for FOIA Professionals

With passage of the Open Government Act of 2007, Congress formalized the crucial role played by FOIA Public Liaisons (FPLs) in the FOIA process. Specifically, the law directs FPLs to help resolve FOIA disputes and serve as the point of contact for FOIA requesters. OGIS recognizes the importance of this role, and we want to assist FPLs in fulfilling this mission. For this reason, we offer Dispute Resolution Skills Training for FOIA Professionals. This training is co-sponsored by the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy (OIP). Our goal in providing this training is to provide FPLs and other FOIA professionals with dispute resolution tools they can apply to FOIA disputes at their agencies.


OGIS drew on the knowledge of agency Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs when we developed the training, and we work closely with them to deliver the training whenever possible. Although most Federal agencies have active and effective ADR programs, applying mediation principles and techniques to FOIA disputes is relatively novel. We view agency ADR programs as a great untapped resource to help extend the Office’s reach by leveraging existing agency resources to help resolve FOIA disputes.


 FPLs are the first point of contact within an agency when a FOIA dispute arises, and they must negotiate with members of the requester community as well as with colleagues within their own agency throughout the FOIA process. Of course, many FPLs are adept at handling sometimes contentious and complicated FOIA disputes, but others are new to this role. These free dispute resolution training sessions – which include instruction in communication and facilitation skills – will aid Public Liaisons from all backgrounds and skill levels. While a Public Liaison is certainly not expected to become a mediator, dispute resolution skills can help FPLs work more effectively. This training is open to all agency FOIA professionals.

OGIS has received positive feedback from attendees on the usefulness of this training.


We will be offering this training periodically. Updates regarding future dates for the Dispute Resolution Skills Training will be posted as they become available. If you are a FOIA professional and would like to receive announcements of future training sessions by email, please send a message to