Yes, "FOIA Denial Officer" Is a Real Job Title in the "Most Transparent Administration in History"


The latest from the "most transparent administration in history," a letter in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, signed by Taylor D. August, whose job title at the Department of Education is "FOIA Denial Officer." 

Morgan Smith

The letter does say that it "may be necessary" to release the requested documents. So that's something, I guess.

Related: Is there a FOIA Approval Officer? Do they hate each other? Do they share an office? I've placed a call to DOE. Will update if I actually get a call back.

Via Morgan Smith's Twitter feed.

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  1. Is there a FOIA Approval Officer? Do they hate each other? Do they share an office?

    Give me an hour and I can put together a sitcom pitch. Is Frankie Muniz available?

    1. I picture that shot in Arrested Development of two adjoining cubicles at the CIA, the left with a sign saying “CIA West” and the right “CIA East.”

  2. Is that letter to the original requestor? If so, what does it even mean – “it may be necessary.”

    1. It sounds like they outsourced FOIA denials to India. Probably couldn’t keep up with the volume of work.

      1. Hello sir my name is Taylor and I am calling today to discuss where you buy your FOIA denials from,

        1. We must respectfully do the needful and deny your request. Please let me know if you are comfortable.

          1. That is scarily accurate (I work with Indians all day).

            1. Don’t forget that while you’re being denied, we will never actually state that you’re being denied, only that it will be very difficult to be approved.

  3. The real person whose in denial is the journalist who filed the claim expecting information back and not some bullshit claim that the emails/files were destroyed due to water damage.

  4. These freak’n titles for these government “employees”, in this case “officer”.

    To Little Taylor August: You’re NOT an officer of any kind. You’re a government employee that would probably never be hired in the private sector.

    1. Yeah, “FOIA Denial Officer” should be changed to “Obfuscating Parasite”.

      1. “Traitor” sounds like a more appropriate title.

        1. Cranial-separation victim.

  5. Of all departments, why does the DOE need a “denial officer.” Are there internal documents admitting that all of their “science-based” programs are frauds? Isn’t that what recycling hard drives is for?

    1. This was my question. I can imagine the CIA having one, but Education?

    2. It could be related to personnel issues such as job candidates, etc. It must be pretty important stuff. Remember the DOE has conducted armed raids:…


    1. P.P.S. Problems we don’t have!

  7. I would have guessed there was ‘way more than one.

  8. Maybe they just cover FOIA requests coming from a certain region in Egypt

    1. Is that south of the Crimea River?

  9. People just don’t understand the word transparency. Obama didn’t lie. He just meant that in his administration, when they refuse to give you information, they tell you they are refusing to give you information.

    What, people don’t think that’s progress?

  10. No, there are only “Denial Officers” when it comes to the FOIA.

  11. I have access to a Federal directory and I looked up Taylor D. August. On this database (which is usually pretty current) he is listed as Director – Office of Civil Rights – Dallas Enforcement Office, Dept. of Ed.

    So he was fighting for civil rights, and now I guess he got promoted to denying them.

    1. So, he was for them before he was against them? That sounds familiar.

  12. This tweet, article and comments are all in good fun and all but let’s not escalate this into real criticism without real facts, OK?

    It’s true beyond dispute that President Obama’s promise of the most transparent administration in history is in tatters. It is not necessarily true that the existence of a “FOIA Denial Officer” is evidence of that. What if it turns out that that job title exists because no one in the Dept. of Education is allowed to deny a FOIA request without the Officer’s approval? Or if it turns out that his role is to prevent exempted information — say the personal information about students and parent — from going out as responses to FOIA requests? Surely the individual rights advocates at Reason don’t believe that students and parents should have their personal information broadcast to the world because some bureaucrat collected it. I certainly don’t, and if there’s someone collecting that information there had darn well better be someone tasked with preventing disclosure of it.

    Back in the old days, there used to be a device for real-time and delayed-time voice communication known as a “telephone.” Being part of an old-fashioned bureaucracy, it appears that Mr. August still has access to one of these devices. The equivalent to a URL for this device is (202) 514-4209. Perhaps if someone at Reason could gain access to a similar device she or he could find out exactly what a FOIA Denial Officer is and whether it’s a position worthy of derision.

    1. I’ll concede that you make some good points, but let’s be serious, what are the odds of it being a position unworthy of derision? Slim to none, I’d guess.

    2. Just curious why anyone thinks any government entity actually should collect such information?

      What isn’t collected can’t be disclosed… Once you give it to government agents, from any level, you no longer own it. Same thing if they steal it.

      Government is not the answer to the problem… it IS the problem.

  13. I would love to see the job description for Denial Officer. And I can just imagine what the civil service examination looks like.

  14. Quote from article: “The letter does say that it ‘may be necessary’ to release the requested documents.”

    Actually, what I can see of the letter says “…it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence…”; I read this as a reference to the denial letter, and the original FOIA request that caused it to be generated.

    This by itself could be taken as a veiled threat: “If you ask for info, we may have to release your name as a person who has been poking around and asking for info.” I wonder if it had a CC for the IRS?

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