The 360-degree FOI audit project intended to demonstrate the importance of data to evidence-based decision making. The audit, conduct with state and local government agencies in the State of Florida was to determine compliance and performance related to a series of public record requests. Information collected addressed ease of access, fees, response time, and accuracy of the information provided to the petitioners.
Follow up surveys and interviews were conducted with those agency's directors to learn more about their agency’s FOI policies, practices and administrative procedures (and the rationale behind them) and costs to comply with the state’s FOI laws and associated responsibilities. NFOIC explored the reasoning surrounding policies and procedures and their impact on decision making to distinguish between policy making based on tradition or ideology, and policies based on facts and data (evidence).
Evidence-based decision making should yield policies that effectively provide solutions to administrative challenges and improve the overall processes rather than responses to address the immediate or short-term challenge that remedy the current situation, but do not sustain best practices or establish professional standards.
The 360 FOI audit provides a template and criteria for conducting similar open government studies surrounding public record request audits in other states and contributes to a database for future use. NFOIC worked with its state FOI affiliates and with other academic and open government partners to compile and present the audit findings during 2018 Sunshine Week.