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Harnessing the Power of Technology: Moving FOIA IT to 2.0

Agencies across the government have embraced the use of technology to assist in the administration of the FOIA.  Overwhelmingly, agencies use technology to receive and track requests, redact documents, and to assist in the preparation of their Annual FOIA Reports.  Agencies also have been actively making records available proactively on their websites, so that the public can access information without the need to make a FOIA request.  These have all been important and meaningful uses of technology in the administration of the FOIA.  Now it is time to move FOIA technology to the next level and OIP is leading an initiative to do just that. To achieve greater efficiencies in the administration of the FOIA, we need to harness technology to streamline and mechanize the core elements involved with the actual processing of requests.  For example, there are technology applications that can assist agencies with conducting searches of multiple records custodians simultaneously.   There are applications that will identify duplicate documents and then electronically “de-dup” the document set so that only one copy of a duplicate record need be reviewed.  There are applications that will thread and sort e-mails, pre-process records, and create document indices. There are also shared platforms where multiple offices can view and comment on a document simultaneously, thereby allowing a consensus to be reached on its handling and avoiding the time otherwise incurred in de-conflicting multiple recommendations.   Web portals can be designed to facilitate the making of requests and in turn, can provide requesters with the ability to track the status of their request online.  Finally, there are technological improvements that can be made to websites to facilitate the usefulness of the information that is posted, including enhanced search functionality. OIP is leading an effort to maximize agencies ability to take advantage of these and other technologies that can streamline the FOIA process, help agencies gain efficiencies, and improve the online availability of information.  OIP will be convening the FOIA Technology Working Group for a planning meeting to discuss this technology initiative.  The FOIA Technology Working Group will provide an ideal forum for interested agencies to exchange ideas and experiences in utilizing technology to improve administration of the FOIA.   As our work proceeds, OIP will be sharing the results with all agencies so that everyone can maximize their use of technology in all aspects of FOIA administration as we move together toward “FOIA IT 2.0.” The details for the planning meeting are: FOIA Technology Working Group Meeting October 27, 2011 OIP Conference Room 1425 New York Avenue, NW - Suite 11050 10:00 am - noon Open to agency representatives with experience utilizing technology Registration is required to attend this event and space is limited. If you are interested in attending, please e-mail your name to OIP’s Training Officer, Bertina Adams Cleveland, at If you have any questions regarding this event, please contact Ms. Adams at (202) 514-1010.
Updated August 6, 2014