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OIP Establishes Annual Outstanding FOIA Officer Award

The Office of Information and Privacy has established a governmentwide award for outstanding service by a Freedom of Information Act officer and has chosen as its first recipient the retiring Director of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts Division at the Department of Health and Human Services, Ross Cirrincione.

This new award, which will be given annually, is designed to recognize exceptional contributions to governmentwide FOIA administration by a FOIA officer at a federal agency other than the Department of Justice. (The Justice Department has its own such award, entitled "The Attorney General's Award for Outstanding Service in Freedom of Information Act Administration," for which Justice Department personnel are eligible; it was originated by OIP more than a dozen years ago and is presented each summer.)

Ross Cirrincione was presented with this new "Outstanding FOIA Officer Award" by OIP Co-Director Richard L. Huff on August 3, upon the occasion of his retirement after nearly fifty years of federal service, the last twenty-three as an agency FOIA officer. See FOIA Update, Vol. XIV, No. 3, at 15 ("FOIA Focus" article describing Cirrincione's service both at HHS and as Director of the FOIA Division at the former Health Care Finance Administration).

The inscription on this inaugural award reads: "Presented to Ross Cirrincione . . . in recognition of his outstanding and longstanding leadership in FOIA administration within his agency, on a governmentwide basis through superb training and advisory activities, and on an international stage as a forceful advocate of transparency." It recognizes him for his many governmentwide activities, including service on OIP's FOIA Officers Homeland Security Information Group from 2003-2005 and on its FOIA Officers Advisory Group during the 1990s, see FOIA Update, Vol. XIV, No. 3, at 12; participation in OIP's governmentwide training programs as an instructor for more than a decade; travel to China as part of a State Department FOIA delegation led by OIP Deputy Director Melanie Ann Pustay last year; and service to the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP) for many years. He served as president of that organization three times, a record number. See FOIA Post, "American Society of Access Professionals Officers Elected" (posted 12/28/01).

ASAP also honored him at a luncheon that was held in celebration of ASAP's 25th anniversary at the Freedom Forum on July 28, entitled "The Faces of FOIA," at which both of OIP's co-directors were speakers. Cirrincione, who has been known as the "voice" of ASAP, played a special role on that occasion as well.

OIP plans to present this new governmentwide award each year and will begin accepting nominations for next year's award as of next June. Additionally, it will be celebrating its own 25th anniversary in 2006.  (posted 8/31/05)

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