Among the many services that AINS offers to our customers, FOIAXpress training is one of the most popular. Through our comprehensive courses and workshops, customers can learn best practices on how to use the enterprise Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request management software, FOIAXpress. If you or your agency is seeking information on FOIAXpress training, please refer to the FAQs in this guide:
What types of training do you offer?
AINS offers three separate training courses which can be found here. Our most popular course, FOIAXpress Basic Training, is typically offered on the last Wednesday and Thursday of every month. The next Basic Training course will be held on March 24th and 25th, followed by April 28th and 29th. The FOIAXpress EDR Training course is offered quarterly, while FOIA and Privacy Law Training, provided by FOIA Expert and AINS consultant Richard Huff, is offered on an as-requested basis.
Are courses currently offered in-person or online?
Due to COVID-19, we do not currently offer in-person courses at customer locations or at our D.C. training location, Softek. For customer safety, we provide training courses through Zoom for Government, a FedRAMP-certified conferencing platform. If a customer wishes to use a different platform for training, they must coordinate the meeting invitation link.
Who can benefit from FOIAXpress training?
In addition to FOIA analysts and processers, all agency personnel, from administrative assistants to agency heads and directors, can benefit from understanding FOIA and how FOIA requests are processed. As stated by FOIAXpress Trainer Tarik Ndongo, our training programs “…[are] not only great for additions to individual career goals and paths, but essential to understanding how governments work.”
We strongly recommend that managers attend FOIAXpress training to learn how to use the enterprise dashboards of the platform. According to FOIAXpress Trainer Caroline Ige, “FOIAXpress dashboards allow manager to have an enterprise birds-eye view of what is going on in the agency. Managers don’t need to know how to process a request in order to use this feature of the platform, although if you want to drill down further to see individual requests, you can.”
Are there any challenges to training remotely?
Some of our customers have faced challenges during remote training, and fortunately we have developed steps to mitigate these challenges. These include:
- The FOIAXpress training environment may be incompatible with agency security settings.
We recommend that all customers have their FOIAXpress test environment deployed and available for training labs and exercises prior to scheduling a FOIAXpress training course. AINS offers a training instance that is available for customer use and does not require a VPN, but may be incompatible with the security settings of your agency. If you require the AINS training instance, please request the URL in advance and check with your IT department to ensure you are able to access the environment.
- The potential for distractions may be higher in a remote setting.
Because the potential for distractions is higher when training remotely from home, we recommend that agencies request courses be provided in shorter sessions, over a longer duration of days. Upon customer request, we can provide the 16-hour FOIAXpress Basic Training Course (ordinarily a two-day course of two eight-hour sessions) over four-days, in four-hour sessions. Doing so will allow trainees to maintain better focus and avoid distractions.
- Unexpected errors, including loss of internet service.
In order to mitigate unexpected errors that may occur, we recommend that trainees prepare ahead of time to ensure that internet service is secure and all systems used for training are compatible with the agency.
Fortunately, there are also some benefits to remote training. These include:
- Greater flexibility.
- The ability to service more customers at once.
- Cost savings related to travel and other expenses.
What common questions do people raise during training?
Most questions relate to a client’s business process. However, many trainees ask questions regarding the FOIAXpress reporting feature and the Public Access Link (PAL) for receiving FOIA requests electronically. We suggest preparing a list of questions ahead of time if your agency is attending refresher training.
If you have questions following your training, please follow up through the process designated by your agency. This may include submitting a ticket through the AINS Help Desk or sending an email to your program manager.
Do you have any other recommendations for optimizing training?
We understand that our customers often have budgetary restrictions that may impact training requirements. However, we strongly recommend that agencies limit the number of trainees per course to a maximum of 20. This allows us to better service individuals and answer questions organically as they occur. Additionally, identify your point of contact for training so that you may follow up if questions or problems arise.
AINS offers training to all FOIAXpress customers for an additional cost. If you have designated training in your contract and would like to schedule remote training in one of our available courses, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.