Not Just Keeping Up, Technology Shaping Transparency


The world is becoming ever more tech-savvy, and FOIA requestors have come to expect more from their government. We rely on computers for everything from checking job postings to ordering take out. The public has come to expect data at their fingertips thanks to services like Netflix, online shopping, and eReaders. Many agencies have adopted online reading rooms to provide content they believe the public will have an interest in, but it can be difficult to please 100% of knowledge-seekers with such pre-emptive tactics. This is where quick automation comes into play.

Organizations are turning to technology companies to help automate privacy act and FOIA services. Automation speeds up response times and helps organize records. These tech companies not only help agencies keep up with rules and regulations, they are also helping to shape the paradigm the public has come to expect. Here are just a few options that are pushing FOIA practices into the future:

Mobile FOIA – Cell phones have become so much more than just a device used to have conversations. Many people use them to conduct business, surf, the web, and keep track of emails. If you can order a pizza through a phone app, why not submit and track FOIA requests? Many tech companies are offering just that. While some companies like 18F are making it easier to request FOIA records or search for already available information, others are tackling the FOIA process from the other side. Allowing government employees to work from anywhere is much closer to the current state of business. Now even when employees are working remotely or on a business trip, they can still work on pressing requests.

Welcome to the Cloud – Imagine that instead of passing a flash drive around the office, agency employees could read, review, edit and share documents via a secure cloud. Cloud services offer ease of access paired with top-notch security. These cloud services go hand-in-hand with

As new forms of media and correspondence are developed, new laws and regulations must follow with them. New technology leads to new expectations which in turn lead to new options for FOIA requestors.