Melanie Ann Pustay , Director of the Office of Information Policy of the United States Department of Justice has arrived in the country to share her experience on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law in Liberia. She is here as guest of Carter Center. Ms. Pustay, who is expected to spend a week in the country, will train government of Liberia information officers on their duties and obligations as duty bearers today.
Speaking to this paper yesterday, Ms. Pustay said she was in the country to share the American experience on the issue of access to information. She said that country, considering its size and population has a lot of experience on the issue over the past 50 years.
As for Liberia, she said the passing of the law is just the beginning and that the implementation of the law is the actual challenge.
She added that the press has a major role to play in publicizing and also using the law, adding, “The press is an important player in accessing information.” She was however quick to point out that Liberia’s case is new and would take a while.
While in the country, Ms. Pustay will serve as the international speaker at the International Right to Know in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County on the 28th of September 2013.
She will also serve as panelist of a discussion following the movie at the University of Liberia that demonstrates the value of Freedom of Information on September 26, 2013. Ms. Pustay is also expected to interact with students of the university.
Melanie Ann Pustay became the Director of the Office of Information Policy of the United States Department of Justice in 2007. The Office of Information Policy is responsible for developing guidance for Executive Branch agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for ensuring that the President’s FOIA Memorandum and the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines are fully implemented across the government, and for overseeing agency compliance with the law.
Before becoming Director, Ms. Pustay served for eight years as Deputy Director of DIP, where she was responsible for the Department’s responses to access requests made to the Department’s Senior Leadership Offices, including the Offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, and Associate Attorney General. Beginning in 2003 and continuing today, she has worked extensively with government officials in other countries to assist those officials in implementing their own openness-in-government initiatives.
Ms. Pustay has received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for her role in providing legal advice, guidance, and assistance on records disclosure issues. She graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law where she served on the Law Review.