Many individuals who have been privileged enough to draft the Annual FOIA Report will tell you it is a daunting task requiring many hours of dedicated work. For some this may hold true, and year after year the Annual FOIA Report occupies a few weeks of their lives. However, this does not need to be the case and, at the very least, through a little planning the time taken to produce the Annual FOIA Report can be greatly reduced.
Before the end of the fiscal year there are a series of steps that should be taken to assist with the production of the annual report. First and foremost, find out whether the way your office utilizes FOIAXpress allows it produce your entire annual report. When used correctly, FOIAXpress is equipped with a reporting mechanism that is fully capable of producing the Annual FOIA Report in a form deliverable to the Department of Justice in a few minutes. AINS is offering a free Annual FOIA Report Stress Test to assess how well you are using FOIAXpress and will actually create the FY2013 Annual FOIA Report via FOIAXpress. In doing so, AINS can determine whether your agency is properly utilizing FOIAXpress to the extent you are able to capitalize on the technology’s Annual FOIA Report function. The goal of AINS’ FOIAXpress Technical Services and the Annual FOIA Report Stress Testis to maximize your efficiency and productivity of FOIAXpress.
Secondly, you should always keep track of data being collected throughout the fiscal year; for example, the data produced for the DOJ Quarterly FOIA Reporting should provide insight into whether your method of reporting is producing consistent numbers. Ideally, you should experience consistent data from the previous fiscal year’s Annual FOIA Report through the quarterly data to the current year’s Annual FOIA Report data. If this is not possible, examination of not only your reporting processes may be in order, but also FOIA processes in general; another aspect AINS can assist you with by conducting anAnnual FOIA Report Stress Test.
Third, you can always seek assistance. The Department of Justice annually has refresher training on the guidelines for preparing the annual report. Additionally, you can seek further assistance from AINS as we offer not only the Annual FOIA Report Stress Test, but also additionally technical services to enhance your utilization of FOIAXpress and ultimately, the productivity and efficiency of your FOIA operations.
In regards to the actual report, here are a few ideas that will assist in avoiding delay with the production of the report:
- First, create a schedule for all the tasks ahead of you. Have a start data and completion date, and set aside time in-between to work solely on the Annual FOIA Report.
- Second, prepare the word document version of the report before entering the data; make sure all dates are correct and components are labeled correctly.
- Last, contact your agency’s component offices before you request anything from them and let know it is almost annual reporting season; I always try to remember a herd of buffalo can move only as fast as the slowest buffalo.
The annual report is an additional task to the many already existing tasks for FOIA offices and their personnel. However, a little preparation and assistance can go a long way when producing the Annual FOIA Report.