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The Right FOIA Software Management Solution to Manage Public Records Requests – 15 Key Features

by | Nov 16, 2017 | FOIA Software Solutions | 2 comments

Today, agencies are actively looking for the right software management solution in order to increase the rate and quality for responding to public records requests. Back then, agencies used basic web forms, fillable PDF’s, and even faxed requests. As solutions, such as Armedia FOIA Software Management Solution, come to market it is essential to understand what features are a must-have. Check out the 15 key features that you should look for in a software management solution.

FOIA Software Management Solution: Platform

The technology that runs the application is critical. It is what determines if the tool will keep up with the modern developments and your environment and if it will become a part of your daily operations or a severe thorn in your side.

1. Cloud-Based

Modern FOIA software solutions should be cloud-based because they better support the way users consume technology and simplify the access to information. Our Armedia cloud-based solutions are way more secure, easier to manage, and have more frequent enhancements than ordinary, local solutions.

2. Compliant

The solution you choose should be compliant in three ways:

  • Functionality to support local and national legislation
  • Security certifications such as SOC II Type II
  • Cloud infrastructure

Armedia is compliant in all these ways.

3. Low Maintenance and Easy Setup

If the solution requires a lot of effort and provides poor customer service, it will eventually cause more headaches than benefits. Low maintenance has much to do with how the solution is set up and supported, and who is doing it. Armedia FOIA software management solution has a comprehensive dashboard with a point-and-click user interface (no coding required). So your vendor should be able to set up our solution promptly and have a path for customizations that do not include extensive projects.

4. Customization

The platform you decide on must provide easy customization available out-of-the-box, for instance, custom request fields.

FOIA Software Management Solution: Productivity

Part of the great value of public records requests tools is that they are more accurate, have greater visibility, and provide greater efficiency. Our software management tool gives Public Records Officers the ability to respond to a high volume of requests with less effort.

1. Reporting and Metrics

Agencies who have expenses of at least $100.000 are required by legislation to report on request pipelines, activities, and expenses. Armedia’s FOIA software management solution can do global reporting for all the requests and the activity linked to them.

2. Public Records Officer Dashboard

Public Records Officers should be able to maintain their personal dashboard that links all of the agencies archived and active requests. That includes a calendar view where the public records officer has the ability at-a-glance to see which requests need an immediate response, those that have some kind of issue or red flag, and the total number of requests.

3. Advanced Case Viewer

All documents, regulations, and content linked to a request should be visible in one single window with the ability to launch and preview the original document.

Armedia’s FOIA Module for ArkCase allows FOIA clerks and department heads to quickly and easily see who submitted the request, who escalated the case for review, what the requested document is about, what legislation acts govern the access to that document, as well as tools to do needed redaction to the requested document. Also, once a superior makes a positive or negative decision on the request, there is an automated trickle down a set of actions that notify all parties involved about the final decision on the specific FOIA Request.

FOIA Software Management Solution: Workflow

At the core of the right software management platform is the ability to follow the requesters at each step of the request, and give the public records officer all the needed tools to organize the collection materials. Armedia’s FOIA module provides the full technology stack with built-in business processes that make sure your department is functioning properly and at a high level.

1. Public Point of Access

A modern FOIA solution should have a public facing interface for form submission that citizens can easily access and use. This means that agencies that govern data access will have their own FOIA forms with predefined workflows and forms. Also, these public websites for form submission will need to be easily usable from any mobile device or computer.
Armedia’s FOIA Module rests on Arkcase and its flexibility and ease of access allow citizens to easily submit FOIA requests from a computer or a mobile device.

2. Expense Tabulation

The platform you select should have the ability to tell the requesters the expense of their request based on various criteria, such as per page or per request cost. Typically not linked to invoicing or billing directly.

3. Support for Manual Requests

Not all records requests will come through the public portal. The software management solution should allow the public records officers to initiate a new request through manual creation. If the records requester provides e-mail contact information, the platform should allow you to interact with them electronically.

4. Edit and Set New Action Date

All requests have action dates, material collection dates, and dates for responses. These can be automatic, such as five days after the request submission, or manual for installment type requests. The public records officer with the right software management solution needs to be able to edit and set new dates.

5. Task and Role Assignments

Public records officers are not the only ones who deal with requests. Therefore, the platform of your will needs to provide the ability to re-assign to other officers. With the Armedia FOIA software management solution, you are able to create tasks that allow for a contribution to request materials and departmental voting.

6. Requester Communication

A good FOIA software management solution will provide the ability to initiate and log all communications for a records request to the requester through e-mail.

7. Logging

Your chosen platform needs to allow you to log all activities linked to the request, including communication and internal activities if any.

8. Share Files Electronically

The tool you select needs also to provide you the ability to share the materials electronically through a unique and secure link, and the ability to verify if the requester has viewed those materials.

Conclusion

Choosing the right FOIA software management solution to manage public records requests is crucial. That is because a legacy platform that does not have up-to-date features will prove more expensive to customize or replace, and will be hugely disruptive to existing manual processes.

That’s why it is important to make sure that the solution you want to choose has the above key features. Armedia’s FOIA solution provides all of this, and with implementing our FOIA module, your agency will experience huge gains in efficiency, visibility, and accuracy when responding to public records requests.

Hope that this article helped you pick the right FOIA software management solution for your agency to manage public records requests efficiently. Don’t forget to share this with your friends on the social networks.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeri Lawson

    Can you schedule a demo of your product?

    Reply
    • James Bailey

      Hi Jeri. Thanks for your comment. We can definitely do that. We’ll get in touch via email for details.

      Reply

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