FOIAonline? The facts are wrong.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the promoters of FOIAonline would like you to believe that FOIA case processing technology within the Federal government is dysfunctional.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

FOIAXpress, built and supported by AINS, is the leading FOIA case processing solution used by over 200 federal departments, agencies and sub-agencies.  Our FOIA web portal has been deployed by over 20 agencies and provides a totally integrated FOIA solution.  Over the last 15 years we have saved the US Government tens of millions of dollars with improved FOIA case management processing and efficiency as well as the production of the required DOJ Annual FOIA report – a task that used to take some agencies month to complete can now be done with a click of the mouse.

A centralized, government-wide FOIA portal is a great idea.  But why is the EPA, whose mission is to protect the environment and human health spending staff time, agency resources and tax payer dollars to promote and build a portal and FOIA case processing solution?  Why has DOJ Office of Information Policy and NARA’s Office of Government Information Services abdicated their responsibility for FOIA oversight?  Where is OMB in all of this when Circular A-76 specifically prohibits the federal government from competing with existing commercial solutions?  And what’s up with the House Republicans backing HR 1211, a bill that undermines the job creation efforts of small businesses and establishes and funds yet another government program – what happened to their commitment to smaller government?

Any centralized FOIA portal should be competed for with a full and open procurement process.  If the EPA wants to compete, then the government must recuse itself from being a fair and impartial judge on making the award. Perhaps a firm like the Mitre Corporation should be tasked to conduct the procurement.  A government-wide FOIA portal must be built with open standards and support interoperability with existing FOIA case processing solutions – whether they be commercial software like FOIAXpress or government-built solutions like SWIFT at HHS or the FBI’s FOIA software.  Inter-connectivity is vital to protect and leverage the government’s existing investments in FOIA technology and staff training.

In times of sequestration and budget cuts the government should not be creating a new program to unfairly compete with the commercial sector which has a proven track record in providing cost effective FOIA case processing software.