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AINS Blog - FOIA and Case Management

Entries in FOIA (30)

Tuesday
Oct252016

FOIAXpress User Conference & Technology Summit 2016 Recap

This year, AINS marked the 11th annual FOIAXpress® User Conference & Technology Summit. We celebrated our 2016 event with the theme “Changing Landscape: Reshaping Citizen Engagement through Technology.” More than 250 FOIA and Privacy professionals were in attendance from across North America representing federal, state and local government agencies and institutions. This exclusive, one-day event was a great opportunity for all to learn, share and network with many of the best and brightest in the industry.  We had a jam packed agenda – with a combination of key industry speakers, interactive breakout sessions and best practice workshops designed to ensure our attendees walked away with at least one new idea to bring back to their organizations.  


Wayne R. Jewell Award winners from HUD celebrate their acheivement.The insightful speaking sessions offered a wide range of perspectives on the FOIA process as they were hosted by FOIA thought leaders and educators, FOIAXpress customers and power users, and our very own AINS product experts. Sessions ranged from the general to more issue-specific; touching on the impact of the new FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, how to maximize fee and tolling efficiency, and tips and tricks on how to improve agency use of FOIAXpress. 

AINS works with many wonderful agencies and FOIA departments. Every year at our annual conference, we pause to acknowledge one customer who has displayed an extraordinary working relationship with AINS and FOIA processing performance. This year, we recognized the entire Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Freedom of Information Act Office with the Wayne R. Jewell Customer Appreciation Award. HUD has been a FOIAXpress customer for more than 10 years and also utilizes AINS’ eCase case management platform to manage agency processes.

If you were unable to attend or would simply like to review them, speaker presentation slides are available on the FOIA Summit website.

 

AINS works with many wonderful agencies and FOIA departments. Every year at our annual conference, we pause to acknowledge one customer who has displayed an extraordinary working relationship with AINS and FOIA processing performance. This year, we recognized the entire Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Freedom of Information Act Office  with the Wayne R. Jewell Customer Appreciation Award. HUD has been a FOIAXpress customer for more than 10 years and also utilizes AINS’ eCase case management platform to manage agency processes.

 [DH1]Is this part of the Executive Secretariats office?

Friday
Jul012016

Celebrating 50 Years of FOIA

This Independence Day marks the anniversary of another freedom – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). On July 4, 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson signed FOIA into law. A year later, the act went into effect giving private citizens a “right to know” by providing a streamlined means to request government records.
 
Pro or con, to redact or release – it’s time to acknowledge the hardworking people who have kept the doors of democracy open for fifty years. On this golden anniversary, AINS salutes Access Professionals across the public sector. Those front-line staffers who responded to 769,903 FOIA Requests in 2015. Professionals who rose to the occasion to manage a 30% increase in requests since 2008. These are the unsung heroes that protect our liberty one piece of paper at a time.
 
“FOIA offices have an important task. They are a vital part of democracy by keeping the government transparent. They serve the government, their agency and citizens.” said Moe Goswami, CEO of AINS Inc. the maker of FOIAXpress®, the leading eFOIA solution for the Federal Government.
 
In 2016, the fifty year law is taking center stage. Savvier citizens have come to expect transparency; they demand a greater level of accountability and access to a broader range of government information and records – from standard reports to video, emails, social media and new forms of communication.

“FOIA is only going to get more complicated. Social media and technology are changing the way people interact; more content is going digital. They (FOIA Offices) are going to need greater levels of support and expertise in order to meet the growing demand” said Goswami. “Despite a greater burden on the FOIA community, it is positive that FOIA is growing. A transparent government is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
 
So, this July 4th, raise a sparkler for the Access Professional. To the analyst, lawyer, public information director and Chief FOIA Officer who respond to media requests, citizen questions and uphold the First Amendment. To the people who search, redact and respond on demand – walking the tightrope between disclosing too much and safeguarding our nation. These quiet champions deserve a nod for keeping the lines of communication open for half a century.
Happy July 4th!

 

Download the PDF version.

 

Monday
Feb012016

The Role of Automation in FOIA Compliance

AINS is proud to announce the publication of the article "The Role of Automation in FOIA Compliance" by employee and FOIA software expert Cindy Dillow in Information Management Magazine. In the article, Dillow explains how automation technology can improve transparency, efficiency, and record-keeping in FOIA processing.

You can read the full article online or in Information Management's printed January/February publication.

                

Thursday
Oct292015

U.S. Announces New Open Government Transparency Initiatives

This week members of the Department of Justice and Federal Government are participating in the 2015 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Mexico City, Mexico. In addition to U.S. Government representatives, the Summit has in attendance members of civil society organizations from around the world. The OGP is an organization founded in 2011 with the goal of working domestically and globally to promote open government and transparency.

In conjunction with the event, the Department of Justice has published its 3rd United States National Action Plan which covers a 2 year period and defines commitments to advance government transparency and accountability as well as to increase participation in technological innovations. The plan intends to initiate or continue 45 transparency initiatives including:

  1. Modernizing Freedom of Information Implementation. By expanding services offered by the foia.gov website, conducting a proactive disclosure pilot for posting FOIA-released records online, and improving existing agency FOIA sites the DOJ plans to improve the FOIA process. Modernization of FOIA processes through adaptive case management can also help bring the Federal Government up to speed.
  2. Making it easier for individuals to access their own information. DOJ will assist an interagency team led by OPM, GSA, and the Department of Commerce to develop new authentication tools to protect individual privacy and ensure that personal records only go to the intended recipients. Tools like the FOIAXpress or stand-alone PAL Web Portal can make it much easier for agency FOIA departments to share and receive FOIA-related records and payments with the public. FOIAXpress tools also eliminate room for error when data is sent between agencies with differing FOIA protocols.
  3. Improving transparency of privacy safeguards. "The Administration will revise and reconstitute guidance to agencies on the collection and protection of individuals’ personally identifiable information."
  4. Enhancing transparency of Federal use of investigative technologies. "As law enforcement and homeland security have employed new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems, the Administration has recognized that these must be used in a manner that protects the privacy and civil liberties of the public. Agencies are encouraged to develop and make public a privacy analysis for advanced technologies."

Modernization of the FOIA process through IT improvements, new technology, and proactive FOIA protocols is the key to maintaining an open and accountable government.

Read the White House post >>

Read the DOJ post >>

Tuesday
Jul072015

DOJ Updates Guidelines for Gauging FOIA Requester Interest

The Department of Justice recently updated guidance on questioning whether or not requesters were still interested in the results of their FOIA cases. Freedom of information requests must be responded to within (timeline), but extenuating circumstance can lead to a longer amount of time before records are processed. Changes in circumstances or an extended request processing time can lead to FOIA requests no longer being needed by the original requester. In these cases, DOJ has put out new guidelines on when and how to ask requesters if they are still interested in the results.

"When done judiciously, this is entirely appropriate because agency resources should not be expended on processing a request when the requester is no longer interested in the records," the guidance says. 

Automation of the FOIA process through solutions like FOIAXpress can help alleviate backlogs and speed response time, but the fact remains that some cases can still slip through the cracks. New guidelines such as these can ensure that agency time and resources are being spent on FOIA requests that are still valid.

Read the DoJ Guidelines here