Journalists who regularly use the federal FOIA complain about lost requests, long delays, and responses that give no indication if and when the agency will turn over documents. But a new feature promises to make it easier for agencies and requesters to keep track of the requests and to make the FOIA process more efficient.
At Armedia, we authored a new FOIA Module within the open-source ArkCase Case Management that allows your department to:
- Search pending FOIA requests and those already released as the result of previous FOIA requests
- Receive agency correspondence and requests all within the system
- Submit a new FOIA request to an agency
- See the status of any request
- Track requests
And for department heads, the Module provides the ability to search the tracking data, to keep tabs on how well (or bad) an agency is fulfilling its FOIA obligations, etc.
Our FOIA Module simplifies the processes for your organization. It is also useful for government representatives responsible for keeping FOIA responses flowing to find and fix the problems that slow FOIA responses.
FOIA Request Processing Procedure
The graphic below illustrates the high-level steps in which the GAO defines the Request process.
All FOIA Requests should be:
- As specific as possible regarding dates, names, places, time frames, subjects, events, etc.
- Records should be described as precisely and definitively as possible.
Meeting the guidelines for completeness can be a time-consuming and complex procedure for an organization. Not surprising, this requirement creates a huge need for a FOIA tool, one that can simplify the process with features such as automated process steps, at-a-glance status for each participant, and any-point-in-time tracking.
Our Armedia FOIA Module has a customizable dashboard that displays information relevant to requests such as: participants, status, incident information, and references.
A multi-track processing system is established on the date that the request is received. You can see the amount of time and work involved in processing the request and whether the request qualifies for expedited processing. You can acknowledge that you’ve received requests and make it easier to track the progress of the requests.
Designed for full due diligence, the Armedia FOIA Module will process requests in order of receipt. The ArkCase components use processing tracks to distinguish between complex, simple, and expedited requests based on the need to collect from multiple locations (the need to search for, collect and examine a voluminous amount of records).
With Armedia FOIA Module, we have provided all requesters with a tracking number by which they can more easily track their requests (and send immediate notification if there are any changes). The Armedia FOIA Module also notifies the requesters of the track in which the request is placed. Additionally, notifications provide an easily accessible option so you can view the assigned tasks and complete your work.
A misdirected request is one received by the DLA’s FOIA Office for records maintained by another DoD or DLA Component.
Misdirected requests will be forwarded quickly, but it is still a time-consuming procedure (and requires a lot of effort). The organizational unit responsible for responding to the request must maintain the records and make them available for responding to requests in future.
Armedia’s FOIA Module provides the solution to this problem. On our platform, even a cost estimate can be provided in advance, if we are aware that the fees will be beyond the agreed-to amount designated by the requester. This notice allows us to ask for approval to continue the FOIA process or to see if the requester would like to narrow the scope of the request. Armedia’s ArkCase Module provides not only a space for quickly entering and immediately accessing information, but also contact information in more than one complaint and case.
In other words, Armedia offers you a simple way to handle all the Misdirected Requests!
To avoid lost requests, long delays, and responses that give no indication of when the agency will turn over documents, you need an easy-to-use system to acknowledge and track FOIA requests promptly. Armedia’s FOIA Module acknowledges, tracks, and proactively communicates with requests in a simplified way. It utilizes the ArkCase pioneer open-source platform that integrates with the leading DoD management systems (Alfresco, FileNet, SharePoint, Documentum) by automatically proclaiming documents as records based on configurable business events in the system.
You can enhance your organization’s return-on-investment. Our approach significantly reduces the risk and time associated with creating and implementing technology and business solutions.
Please feel free to let us know your thoughts below!
Access All FOIA Principles:
- FOIA Principle 1: Expand Proactive Online Disclosures
- FOIA Principle 2: Use The Internet To Process Requests More Effectively Using Armedia FOIA Module
- FOIA Principle 3: Acknowledge And Track FOIA Request Promptly Using Armedia’s Module
- FOIA Principle 4: Clearly And Proactively Communicate With Requests
- FOIA Principle 5: Prevent The Destruction From Records And Apply A Presumption Of Disclosure
- FOIA Principle 6: Streamline And Limit Confidential Business Information Claims
- FOIA Principle 7: Clarify Fees And Waiver Procedures
- FOIA Principle 8: Improve Dispute Resolution And Administrative Appeals