Freedom of Information Act & Right to Know
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), intended to promote transparency in government operations and keep citizens informed, requires government agencies to make certain information available for public review. When a citizen wants information that isn’t publicly available, they can request access to that information by filing a FOIA request.
Paper-Based FOIA Processes Don’t Make Sense in a Digital World
Traditionally, local governments have received FOIA requests from citizens and responded to those requests using paper-based methods. Staffers would need to review paper request forms before spending time locating paper files to meet requests. Once the files were located, someone needed to photocopy documents, mail those document copies to requestors and re-file the paper records. This way of managing the process is often a time-consuming and costly endeavor.
In today’s digital age, there’s a better way of responding to FOIA document requests. By leveraging an electronic document management system, state and local governments can manage requests more efficiently while decreasing processing time and expenses.
Automate the Request Process
When you implement Treeno Software’s Electronic Document Management (EDM) solution, you’ll be able to automate the FOIA process – from the initial request through completion. Treeno will accelerate the entire process, provide insight and transparency as to the status of the request and save time and money previously required for data retrieval, replication and refiling. By creating a fillable electronic form for FOIA requests, you can ensure requestors complete all required fields. When a requestor clicks “submit,” the EDM solution automatically routes the request using the workflow you determine. This means requests can be handled in the order received and helps eliminate the risk that a request will become buried in someone’s inbox or misplaced when being shuffled from one desk to another.
You’ll also have a ready audit trail of all FOIA requests received by your office, including where the request is in the process.
When you implement EDM, you also benefit from digitizing documents. When you have electronic records that are indexed and readily accessible, there’s no need for an agency staffer to have to track down paper records, photocopy them and mail them to the person who submitted the FOIA request. Instead, the person handling the response can locate the electronic document in just moments and fulfill the request electronically. Treeno’s audit trail will track the entire interaction, recording the time stamp and actions taken by the Treeno user along with which documents are being gathered and who they are being provided to.
Many local governments that have implemented EDM choose to use digital records capabilities to make certain documents available to the public in a read-only format. Doing so can eliminate many of the FOIA requests your agency would have otherwise received for those records.
Improve Response Times (and Citizen Satisfaction)
Digitizing records and automating the FOIA request workflow is not only faster and more efficient for your office; it also greatly improves response time, leading to happier requestors. By scaling the services you provide to citizens through EDM processes, you can deliver more information to the public, faster, with fewer resources.
Discover How Treeno Software Can Improve Your Agency’s FOIA Response Process
At Treeno Software, we work with local government agencies, in addition to helping businesses in a variety of industries with their document management needs. To learn more and to discover how Treeno can help with your FOIA needs, contact us today.