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The Importance of Proper Case Management and Closing out Fiscal Year 2015 Strong

As Fiscal Year 2015 is quickly drawing to an end, agencies are hard at work processing more and more requests to close out the year strongly.  OIP encourages agencies to focus these last weeks of the fiscal year on their FOIA administration to help reduce any backlogs.  One of the main tools agencies use for tracking the efficiency of their FOIA workflows and ensuring the accuracy of their Annual FOIA Report is their case management system.       

A key component of President Obama's FOIA Memorandum is the direction to "use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government."  Over the past several years agencies have reported in their Chief FOIA Officer Reports widespread use of technology in receiving and tracking FOIA requests and preparing agency Annual FOIA Reports. 

Agencies currently use various case management systems for tracking and processing their FOIA requests, and each agency should ensure that they are using the system that best serves their particular FOIA needs.  As outlined in DOJ's Annual FOIA Report Handbook, agencies are ultimately responsible for the quality of their Annual FOIA Report data.  They should exercise due diligence in testing their systems to ensure accuracy for the benefit of both their year-end reports as well as workflow reports that they rely on during the year to manage their FOIA administration. 

At the Department of Justice, our components use a number of different methods and tools to track their FOIA requests tailored to their unique needs.  OIP has been working with EPA to develop enhancements to FOIAonline, the EPA’s multi-agency FOIA tracking system, that meet our specific needs, and we are pleased to announce that beginning in early 2016, OIP will be using FOIAonline as our case management system.  In addition to tracking the requests it processes and the Department’s administrative FOIA appeals, OIP will be using FOIAonline to prepare and validate the Department’s Annual FOIA Report. 

OIP's use of FOIAonline builds on the great work between OIP, EPA, and the partner agencies that has existed from the very beginning of FOIAonline.  OIP has worked closely with EPA and the FOIAonline partners from the start to ensure the system produces an accurate Annual FOIA Report, as well as to make sure that any enhancements function appropriately in compliance with the FOIA statute and DOJ guidance. 

OIP is excited to be working with EPA on the development of additional enhancements to FOIAonline and the future possibilities for how FOIAonline can assist agencies with their FOIA case management needs. 

Updated September 2, 2015