Agencies adjust FOIA processes

Agencies adjust FOIA processes

Agencies struggling to keep up with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests can look to the departments of Justice and Homeland Security for ideas, as both agencies have made changes to their policies and processes.

The Justice Department’s pilot program will test the practicality of posting FOIA responses online, making requested information available to the general public. Seven agencies are participating in the pilot.

The program, which started earlier this month, is designed to provide answer questions related to costs of a full implementation, staff time needed to process requests and privacy issues that could be exceptions to requests.  The pilot will last for six months.

The seven agencies that will participate are Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and components or offices of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, and the National Archives and Records Administration.

Meanwhile, DHS -- the agency that reports it receives more FOIA requests than any other agency -- has launched a mobile app that allows users to submit requests to any DHS component, as well as check the FOIA status and  receive updates on those requests. In addition, users will have access to all content on the agency’s FOIA website and the FOIA library.

The app is available for both Android and Apple devices and will help the agency continue to cut its FOIA backlog, which DHS said it has reduced 20 percent since the beginning of the fiscal year.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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