From the time since the Freedom of Information Act took effect on July, 4, 1967, it has provided any individual the right to obtain access to federal agency records. The FOIA has been a means to ensure that those who are governed can hold those who govern accountable. It provides guidelines to all federal agencies regarding what can and should be delivered to the people and how to do it. One such deliverable is the Annual FOIA Report – a now expansive document dictating and demonstrating the activities of each federal agency’s FOIA operations.
The Annual FOIA Report’s production is a shared experience by all federal agencies and is often thought to be a burdensome and time consuming task at best. However, it is important to keep in mind that its production and delivery is an exercise in providing government accountability, increasing transparency, and demonstrating the spirit of the FOIA.
Since the enactment of the FOIA in 1966, there has been an annual obligation to provide Congress with a report detailing federal agencies’ compliance with FOIA litigation and the Department of Justice’s efforts to encourage such compliance. The Annual Report still does and will continue to serve this purpose, but it is also an opportunity for federal agencies to proactively provide the public with information regarding their operations. The Annual Report acts as an open window where the public can view a series of gears in the giant governmental machine.
As the Annual FOIA Report has progressed into a more sophisticated method of reporting and transparency, AINS has met these advancements by producing the leading FOIA technologies for processing and reporting. For the past 15 years, AINS has demonstrated our engagement to not only produce advanced technologies to assist FOIA operations, but also our commitment to the larger goals of Open Government in the United States.
So, as we get closer to the close of the fiscal year and the beginning of what for many FOIA workers is the Annual Report season, remember, the Annual Report’s purpose coincides directly with the spirit of the FOIA and the idea of governmental accountability. It is an important exercise which enables the public to have a better understanding of the FOIA and those who fulfill its obligations.
AINS’ contribution to the fulfillment of Annual FOIA Report obligations is to provide those FOIA offices and officers with the tools, skills and assistance needed to ease the burden of producing the report. FOIAXpress is a tool that, when properly utilized, can create the Annual Report in less than a day instead of weeks. Its annual report function is designed to produce the exact data required by the Department of Justice for the Annual FOIA Report. Additionally, AINS offers FOIAXpress Technical Support Services to assist with the production of the Annual Report and root out the issues that prevent your office from fully completing the report in FOIAXpress.