The Office of Information Policy (OIP) has posted on its Chief FOIA Officer (CFO) Council page a newly released white paper issued by the Technology Committee’s FOIA Searches Working Group. The white paper is one of the deliverables identified in the working group’s charter and presents key findings from the group’s research over the past fiscal year into search and technology considerations for FOIA professionals.
In light of the challenges of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the working group met remotely, reviewed publicly available resources, surveyed approximately 30 federal agencies, met with members of the FOIA Advisory Committee, and reviewed current agency practices at various agencies.
The white paper highlights several key findings, including three major findings:
- there is a significant gap in the public’s understanding of agencies’ abilities to search their electronic archives and databases;
- the strategies and tools used by federal agencies to conduct searches vary; and
- searching email is still a challenge.
This white paper helps raise awareness of search-related challenges for ongoing discussion and collaboration. It also offers some practical tips to assist agencies in conducting searches and to assist requesters in making requests. Agency FOIA professionals and members of the public are encouraged to read this white paper for insight into the Working Group’s research and findings.