June 29, 2012The Justice Department has improved a website that allows the public to access and search agencies’ annual reports on how they handle Freedom of Information Act requests, according to the Government Accountability Office.
In a report released Thursday, auditors found Justice, which created FOIA.gov for $300,000 in 2011, has enhanced the site with better search features and Spanish language availability, for example.
Starting in 1996, government agencies have been required to create an annual report that discloses information on their FOIA requests for public records, such as how many they received, how many have been processed and how many are still pending. GAO found agencies are, for the most part, transporting this data accurately to FOIA.gov for public consumption.
The watchdog agency found some searches were not producing full results, but Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the office of information policy at Justice, has said the department fixed this problem.
GAO said the website is not intended to ease the FOIA request process, but the Environmental Protection Agency, Commerce Department, and National Archives and Records Administration are working to create an interagency Web portal that will process requests and make documents released after FOIA inquiries available to the public and searchable. It is expected to launch in October.
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June 29, 2012