The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which supports release of information (ROI) gives citizens the right to request access to undisclosed information, managed by the government. Citizens are becoming more aware of their rights and are increasingly using FOIA to get more information about government actions that affect them. On the other hand, the government can’t keep pace with the flood of FOIA requests.
FOIA organizations are lagging behind a constantly growing and challenging workload. While almost every part of government has implemented some workflow automation, the changing demands and increasing complexity of the FOIA have led to lapses in effectively processing requests.
Every agency that handles FOIA requests wants to build a system that will support its primary tasks and improve the entire organization’s performance. Every year the number of FOIA requests increases together with the FOIA backlog. An effective solution for organizations to handle this backlog is automation of FOIA requests.
How Will FOIA Request Management Solution Help Organizations?
FOIA is all about taking information and making it available to citizens, ensuring that the information is safe for publishing, and then granting access to those who requested this information. A software solution to handle all these tasks should promote efficiency and collaboration within the organization. Here’s a shortlist:
- Automating FOIA requests will help organizations throw away the black marker and white tape, and respond to requests more efficiently and quickly.
- Organizations will have a more systematic way of organizing information and can minimize challenges while searching and accessing large volumes of records in different systems.
- Organizations will be able to meet legislated deadlines and improve their accuracy and timely reporting.
- Employees will be able to do much more with the same resources, reduce the backlog and provide better service to the citizens.
Having an automated solution for managing FOIA requests will help your organization minimize manual redaction, speed up requests handling, collaborate in more effective ways and facilitate citizen self-service.
Today’s FOIA Environment
Growing expectations of process performance and a rising caseload of complex requests are challenging for Chief FOIA Officers. The backlog of a request is constantly growing and information disclosure is delayed. Deadlines are knocking on the door and penalties are becoming even bigger.
Efficient management and administration of FOIA requests are crucial if organizations are to deliver responses cost-effectively in compliance with departmental and legislative processes and meet citizen’s expectations.
Today’s FOIA environment fails to quickly and easily provide citizens with feedback about the status of their request. That’s why many agencies are taking a step towards automated solutions that will help them not only track but also search, scan, redact and process FOIA records faster and gather quality control. Advanced information technology enables improved Electronic FOIA (eFOIA) request tracking and processing while using the publicly open Internet for citizen-friendly communication. This technology also provides FOIA teams with performance metrics for measuring and evaluating operations while meeting legislated reporting requirements.
Automation of FOIA request management has huge advantages for both, citizens who need answers quickly and executives who respond to their requests. While there are many solutions for automating FOIA processes, what your organization need is a proven system used by many organizations which pack the insights and feedbacks of hundreds of users to become even better.
Shift Your Manual Work of Processing Paper-Based FOIA Requests to an Automated Solution with Armedia’s FOIA Module
Armedia has partnered with Alfresco, ArkCase, Ephesoft, Snowbound, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver an FOIA/PA automated case management solution that is highly intuitive, configurable, compliant, and scalable.
- Alfresco provides ECM open source platform with a DoD 5015.2 certified records management component.
- ArkCase provides high-quality support for the basic characteristic of an FOIA solution and is flexible to be configured in a specific context to each customer’s organization.
- Ephesoft provides an advanced intelligent document capture platform for imaging records.
- Snowbound provides an embedded viewer that supports redaction and annotation capabilities.
- Finally, AWS host the solution providing a FedRAMP compliant platform.
Using these platforms, Armedia offers a web-based, workflow-driven FOIA solution specially designed to help organizations automate, manage, analyze, and quickly handle incoming FOIA requests.
With Armedia’s focus on real-world needs of organizations and consulting expertise, our professional team can quickly configure and employ a solution that matches any use case. The FOIA requests app can capture incoming web requests as well as capturing faxed and mailed FOIA requests. The requests will be automatically absorbed into the application, sent for processing to the appropriate queue, and the request status will automatically be updated as it moves through the business process.
Key Features of Armedia’s FOIA Module:
Our FOIA Module is built on top of the AWS/Alfresco/ArkCase platform to enable the needed FOIA functionality to the case management integrated system. This module has several key helpful features:
- Personalized Dashboard – Customized per user to produce quick access to information.
- Configurable Workflow Queues – Examples of complementary work illustrating an incoming FOIA request and options to give respond by a review process quickly.
- Redaction – Embedded viewer that provides zoom in/out capabilities and thumbnail for quickly applying redaction codes.
- eDelivery – Quick electronic packaging and delivering information.
- Workflow – BPMN 2.0 complaint.
- Records Management – DoD 5015.2 compliant.
- Role-based Auditing & Access Control.
- Drag and drop forms.
- Business Intelligence / Reports – Configurable reports.
- Filtered searching.
- Integrated rules engine supporting routing rules.
Armedia has extensive experience in designing, implementing and employing case management systems. Utilizing platforms like Alfresco, ArkCase, and Ephesoft, Armedia can deliver solutions that will help you increase your productivity and deliver FOIA responses to citizens in a timely manner.
Key Benefits Your Organization Will Gain by Armedia’s FOIA Module:
Each use case may be different in some ways, but the overall benefits span industries. Here are a few of these overarching benefits:
- Centralized processing from various request channels: fax, web, paper.
- Simplified uploads of documents, photos, and videos.
- Electronic delivery of requested information.
- Compliance with security and records retention.
- Mobile friendly and cloud-ready module.
- Automated business intelligence.
- Reduced risk of information lost.
- Faster information assembling.
- Automatic records declaration.
- Improved workflow capacity.
- Faster access to information.
- Higher user productivity.
- Faster response rate.
Armedia’s FOIA Module meets FOIA challenges with an off-the-shelf automated solution. The module manages the whole process of responding to requests and helps speed up the response time, dramatically. Armedia’s FOIA request solution helps administrators to manage, review, and track case activities and produce reports for citizens promptly.
Using the FOIA software solution makes everything digitized and easily searchable. Managing documents and communicating with other departments becomes easier which, in turn, speeds up the required response time.
Deliver Quality Service – Keep the Citizens Up-to-Date
One of the biggest issues organizations have when handling FOIA requests is how to keep the citizens up-to-date on the status of each request. In a paper-based world, the requester would have to wait for the form to be processed on many levels, which can be an exhausting process.
Citizens expect reliable, fast, and effective FOIA services. With broad instructional and educational content online, organizations can start shaping their workload before the request is filed, by reducing incomplete requests and implementing a standard format on the rest. Requesters can easily track the status of their FOIA request online, which, in turn, will reduce organization workload while meeting top-notch standards for citizen communication.
If organizations see this process from a perspective of a case management, it will notice that we are looking at the simplified process with several stages of data entry and a foreseeable outcome. ArkCase has built-in triggers that Armedia FOIA Module is utilizing perfectly. Every time a request is pushed forward for review, the reviewer is notified by the system. Every time the reviewer processes a request, the person in charge will get a notification and whenever a status is updated, ArkCase makes a log entry providing details on made changes and when.
With Armedia’s FOIA request management solution, there is almost no room for human error as the workflow is pre-configured and the forms are pre-set. Also, system administrators will have an option to edit the workflows and forms utilizing point and click configurator.
Let’s Wrap Up
No matter if you are a Systems Integrator deploying a solution or lead an agency department, you want FOIA software or release of information solution that provides proactive and clear FOIA communication.
Utilizing an automated software solution for your FOIA request management means having effective, paper-free workflow and happy citizens. Since many organizations depend on the automated FOIA management system, choosing the right FOIA solution is essential for productive workflow.
If you want to respond to FOIA requests in a more efficient and effective manner with transparency, look no further than the Armedia FOIA Module that has been optimized through our consulting engagements over the many years.
ArkCase is a leader in the case management and digital modernization field, and the FOIA module that Armedia has developed takes advantage of the many benefits of this platform. Our team at Armedia is fully dedicated to delivering best partner and customer experience through leading-edge technology and outstanding service. By choosing Armedia, you choose a secure way to business success.
We want to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. And don’t forget to spread the word on Social Media. Help your FOIA colleagues see that there’s a better way to do FOIA requests management.