Today the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the first iteration of the National FOIA Portal on FOIA.gov. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DOJ to build a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records . . . to any agency from a single website.” In April 2017, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) announced its partnership with the General Services Administration’s (GSA) 18F team to create the National FOIA Portal.
The portal was developed with a user-centric focus relying heavily on both public and agency feedback throughout the entire process. In addition to the features already available on FOIA.gov, like, agency FOIA data and contact information, the new National FOIA portal provides customized forms for each agency to help requesters understand and submit requests more easily. The site also provides insight into the FOIA process including what to do before submitting a FOIA request, how to submit a request, and what happens after submitting a request. The site also centralizes and provides a wealth of agency specific resources that are helpful to requesters, such as a description of each agency and links to their FOIA website, FOIA Reference Guide, FOIA regulations, and the FOIA Library.
Over one hundred agencies are subject to the FOIA and those agencies received over 800,000 requests this past fiscal year. This portal will serve as an important resource for both requesters and agencies alike. This is the first step in an iterative process. DOJ is looking forward to receiving feedback from both requesters and agencies to inform future decisions on enhancing the portal going forward. Feedback can be sent directly to OIP at National.FOIAPortal@usdoj.gov.