FOIA portal moving from idea to reality

From The FOIA Ombudsman:

Consider this: a multi-agency FOIA portal that automates FOIA processing and reporting, stores FOIA requests and responses in a repository and keeps records electronically. Not to mention allows requesters to submit requests to fewer government websites, track the status of requests and find, view and download FOIA requests and agency responses, all in a secure online environment.

Sound like a dream? It was. Now it’s becoming reality, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Commerce and OGIS’s parent agency, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). If all goes as planned, the project goes live this fall. Agency FOIA professionals can get a first look this month.

First, a little history. More than a year ago, EPA began looking at the feasibility of such a portal. The agency administers, the Federal rulemaking portal that allows people to comment on Federal regs and other agency actions. Why not, the agency thought, retool the infrastructure for handling FOIA requests?

Commerce and NARA, through OGIS, jumped aboard from the start, forming a multi-agency partnership last fall. More recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs has expressed interest in joining.