October 1st marks the beginning of the fiscal year. This week, many government agencies hustled to finalize the requests, budgets, and tasks of FY 2014. As we close out one year and begin fresh, it is an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at the data we have accumulated and use it to better policies and practices.
In 2013, federal agencies received 704,394 FOIA requests. That’s a lot of information that needs to be processed, tracked, and sent out to requestors. According to solicitation document s posted earlier this year, The Department of Transportation used 11 separate systems to track the 10,552 new FOIA requests taken in. Streamlining the behind-the-scenes infrastructure of agencies is the key to improving FOIA request turnaround in years to come.
Initiatives like GSA’s 18F are striving to make the FOIA process easier from an external standpoint. By streamlining the intake of FOIA requests and simplifying citizens’ search for information, the agency hopes to improve the FOIA process in terms of turnaround time, ease of tracking, and transparency. COTS FOIA Tracking solutions like AINS’ FOIAXpress help work at the same problem from within an organization. Rather than deal with multiple systems or even individual spreadsheets, these internal FOIA solutions help keep information organized. A better infrastructure is the most direct means of improving future years of FOIA tracking.
As agencies are looking for productive ways to allocate FY2015 funds, tech solutions for FOIA are definietly worth a look.
You can look up more FOIA stats at www.foia.gov