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FOIA Principle 1: Expand Proactive Online Disclosures 

by | Jun 6, 2017 | FOIA Software Solutions | 0 comments

Earlier we posted a blog post on how to navigate the FOIA maze. That blog inspired readers to get in touch with us and ask some specific questions on how to deal with the FOIA challenge, and if Armedia has a simpler solution to this complex challenge. And the good news is that yes, we do have an excellent solution in our FOIA Module for the ArkCase case management system.

Because of the series of questions we received, we decided to create a series of blog posts that deal with each of the FOIA key points and address each one of them with special attention on how a case management system like ArkCase can help organizations use our Armedia FOIA Module.

FOIA 1 Expand Proactive Online Disclosures

The request-based approach to the FOIA Act creates a lot of busy work for government agencies. Automating this process to make extensive amounts of information available to the public via online Reading Rooms could make things easier. However, it can greatly complicate oversight of what goes on the public web, increasing the potential release of information not intended for public consumption. This interesting mix of benefits and threats that exists with most technology have resulted in an initiative for proactive information disclosure by agencies.

ArkCase is an open platform that can enforce proactive online disclosure requirements for any information held by the agency that does not fall into the groups of traditional disclosure exemptions (for example, exemptions-based national security, privacy, trade secret, or decision-making concerns).

Examples of Proactive Disclosure

Despite the complications linked with proactive disclosure, many agencies have already made the leap. But proactive disclosure is still a complex task and requires a special platform to simplify the procedures.

ArkCase has a simple interface and personalized dashboard that allows employees to perform their everyday work easily. We estimate that agencies working on both ends of the FOIA Act will have an average of 40% productivity increase. Also, the use of predefined forms and workflows with each FOIA request drastically reduces the chance of human error.

Many federal agencies have significantly expanded the amount of proactively disclosed information in the last decade. By continuously adapting the trends and patterns, ArkCase streamlines the FOIA process for your organization. This makes ArkCase the perfect platform for Federal, State and Local levels of proactive disclosure and the perfect platform for the Armedia FOIA Module.

Here are some interesting examples.

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

The NASS, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, has made a massive amount of data and analysis from its periodic Census of Agriculture available on its website.

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

These and many other federal agency sites represent an enormous leap forward in proactive disclosure of huge amounts of information developed by or known to the federal government. With the Armedia FOIA Module for ArkCase, declassifying information can be streamlined using a queue-based design.  As artificial intelligence technologies continue to improve, agencies can deploy AI to bucket information or make an initial assessment of the information.  ArkCase open architecture allows for easy integration with third party systems for auto-categorization and publishing to public websites.

Many organizations rely on ArkCase to modernize and automate their business processes. Examples:

  • Organizations that need to respond to release of information
  • Organizations that want a more efficient docket management system
  • Organizations that want more collaboration amongst their legal department
  • Organizations that want a more effective audit management system

ArkCase personalized dashboard provides users with easy access to relevant information and KPIs to understand how the organization is performing.

Data.gov

Data.gov is massive, centralized federal website that makes accessible raw data from a vast number of federal agencies.

data.gov massive federal website

Plenty of the databases contain geo-referenced information, making them helpful for mapping facts and trends.

Managing public accessibility of all that data while remaining fully compliant is no easy task. With ArkCase FOIA, the teams responsible for release of data can quickly and easily handle any request.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Proactive online disclosure of government information is growing throughout the United States and across various government branches. It is here to stay.

The primary challenge now for Federal, State and Local agencies is an efficient, comprehensive, and cost-effective roll-out of the new FOIA regulation. By design, the Armedia FOIA Module does just that. It uses the latest technology to increase transparency without effect on essential government functions.

As mentioned above, the FOIA Module allows teams to declassify (or re-classify) entire sets of data with a click of a mouse. This de/re-classification can be overridden on a per-file level. The system makes a detailed log of every change system-wide, so team leaders can check what changed, who made the change, and why the change was made.

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