The Department of Justice has announced the first ever Freedom of Information Act portal where Americans can submit a FOIA request to any federal agency from one place. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 ordered the Department of Justice, along with the Office of Management and Budget, to build a website that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records from a single website.
The site, www.foia.gov, was developed with a focus on user-experience, relying on extensive public and agency feedback throughout the process.
“The Department is very proud of its unique role in advancing government wide FOIA administration and we are excited to provide this new resource to the public which will allow citizens to be even better informed about their government and the FOIA,” said Melanie Ann Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy in a statement.
“With over one hundred agencies subject to the FOIA and hundreds of thousands of requests made each year, we designed the National FOIA Portal to improve FOIA for both agencies and the public. This is just the first iteration of the Portal and we welcome feedback from users as we continue to build on this effort,” she added.
The Freedom of Information Act of 1967 allows citizens to request records from any federal agency. It’s often described as the law that keeps Americans in the know about their government. Agencies are required to release requested federal records unless they fall into any one of nine exempt categories. The exemptions include records that if publicized would imperil national security, interfere with law enforcement purposes, reveal confidential commercial or financial information, or constitute another individual’s violation of privacy.
The portal provides an overview of the FOIA request process including information on which government agency to submit to, customized forms for each agency and instructions for submitting requests.
DOJ officials touted the efficiency of the new service and said it would help government agencies rapidly respond to requests.
“The National FOIA portal exemplifies our efforts to consolidate common services with the scalability and security available in a modern cloud-based platform and allows us to rapidly deliver capabilities to improve the user experience,” said the DOJ’s Chief Information Officer Joseph Klimavicz. “The Department is committed to continuously improving and modernizing the way citizens interact with our services.”