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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

DOJ, 18F Report on “Discovery Phase” of National FOIA Portal

“Today, OIP is pleased to announce the results of its collaboration with GSA’s 18F team on the discovery phase of development of a National FOIA Portal.  As we enter development, we want to again solicit both public and agency participation in providing feedback on our work. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to build a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records…to any agency from a single website.”   In April 2017, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) announced its partnership with the General Services Administration’s (GSA) 18F team to create a consolidated online request portal.  To begin the project, OIP compiled a team with members including its own FOIA subject matter experts, 18F’s digital services team, and technical staff from DOJ’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and contractor support.  The team began by embarking on a “discovery phase” that included conducting extensive research, interviewing requesters, agencies, and the advocacy community, and testing prototypes of possible functionality.  The discovery phase focused on four categories of potential functionality:  the ability to submit a request to any agency, interoperability (i.e., making the new portal work with other existing systems), generating status updates, and the option to search for already released records. This report (link is external) marks the completion of the discovery phase and highlights the team’s findings and recommendations for development.  Moving forward, we are building the National FOIA Portal using 18F’s agile approach to development and user-centered design research.  Work is divided into short periods of iteration called sprints.  During each sprint the scope of work is planned, executed, and tested with users in order to inform the next iteration (sprint).  “Agile” development focuses on iterative solutions guided by stakeholder feedback.  It also helps ensure that the final deliverables meet the actual needs of end users, which for this project includes both requesters and agencies…”

AALL Calls on Federal Courts to Address PACER Fees

News release: “The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) on September 6, 2017] filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calling on the judicial body to ensure that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) makes electronic federal court records freely available “to the greatest extent… Continue Reading

18F working on new centralized FOIA website

FedScoop: “The General Services Administration’s 18F digital services team has begun work to build a modern, centralized “portal” for Freedom of Information Act requests. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directs the Department of Justice to create a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records under… Continue Reading

Propublica lifts the veil on unreported Trump appointees

ProPublica report [note – the site launched a terrific redesign that helps to highlight the strength of their investigative reporting] “President Donald Trump has left hundreds of government jobs unfilled that require a vote by the Senate. Yet his administration has installed more than 1,000 people through political appointments at every major federal agency, handing… Continue Reading

Online Employee Idea Forum at State Dept. Closed Down

Government Executive: “At the end of August, State Department employees will lose access to the in-house employee online forum called Sounding Board, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff announced in a departmentwide email on Aug. 17. Employees were told to archive any previous discussion items of interest because the past content will not be archived,… Continue Reading

NARA FY 2018-FY 2022 Draft Strategic Plan Highlights Paperless Future

DRAFT FY 2018 – FY 2022 Strategic Plan NARA Strategic Goals and Objectives “…NARA’s strategic goals identify the four key areas in which NARA must excel in order to efficiently and effectively deliver its mission in a modern environment. Make Access Happen Make Access Happen affirms that “public access” is NARA’s core mission and is… Continue Reading

Privacy and Court Records: Online Access and the Loss of Practical Obscurity

Ardia, David S., Privacy and Court Records: Online Access and the Loss of Practical Obscurity (August 4, 2017). University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2017, No. 5, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013704 “Court records present a conundrum for privacy advocates. Public access to the courts has long been a fundamental tenant of American democracy, helping… Continue Reading

Free Law Project – We Have Every Free PACER Opinion on CourtListener.com

“At Free Law Project, we have gathered millions of court documents over the years, but it’s with distinct pride that we announce that we have now completed our biggest crawl ever. After nearly a year of work, and with support from the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, we have collected every free… Continue Reading

Removal of animal welfare data from USDA site sparks FOIA requests

Follow up to previous postings – DOJ defends USDA take-down of massive animal abuse database; Durbin Demands Trump Administration Restore Animal Cruelty; and Animal welfare information wiped from USDA website – see updated status on this matter: People who care about animal welfare are demanding information from USDA – “The Agriculture Department abruptly removed all animal… Continue Reading

Alliance for Securing Democracy – Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter

“The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions. The Alliance will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir… Continue Reading

Myth of one internet has morphed into reality of the ‘splinternet’

August 4, 2017, Terry Flew: “Both The Economist and WIRED are worried about the “splinternet”. The UK research organisation NESTA thinks it could “break up” the world wide web as we know it. What is this awkwardly named idea? It’s the concept that someone’s experience of the internet in Turkey, for example, is increasingly different… Continue Reading

New website tracks press freedom violations in United States

“Today, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press joins more than 20 press freedom organizations announcing the launch of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a new nonpartisan website dedicated to documenting press freedom abuses across the United States…Led by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Freedom of the Press Foundation, the website will serve… Continue Reading