by clicking on the page. A slider will appear, allowing you to adjust your zoom level. Return to the original size by clicking on the page again.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider on the top right.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field and click on "In This Issue" or "All Issues" to search the current issue or the archive of back issues respectively.
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
this publication and page.
displays a table of sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays thumbnails of every page in the issue. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse through every available issue.
GCN : November and December 2014
[BrieFing] The task of ful lling Freedom of In- formation Act requests has dogged requestors and the government workers who respond to them since the law was passed in 1966. But a new site under construction could help make the pro- cess easier for requesters and lighten the load for government. Announced in September, the alpha foia.gov is an open source site built by 18F, the digital services group within the General Services Administration charged with helping agencies meet their mission by developing digital and web services. Although it's still very much in the early phases, a prototype of the re- quest process demonstrates how the process will work: The simple mobile site features a home page with a search box for public records and a blog post. The request page asks users to enter an agency name or choose from a supplied list, which takes them to a page with the agency's FOIA information and access to a FOIA request form. Agencies have been working to make such information available to the public by making frequently requested docu- ments easy to nd. But a new idea, oated by the Proac- tive Disclosure Subcommittee of the FOIA Advisory Committee, suggests that FOIA requests not only often center around clusters of categories but also that frequent and active requesters themselves t into types -- journalists, government watchdog groups, plaintiffs attorneys, etc. If requested data were machine read- able -- like the disclosure of payment information under the Data Act's transpar- ency rules -- frequent requesters could be identi ed and their needs proactively met. Such categorization could save FOIA of ces time and money ful lling requests and improve agency compliance. However, the subcommittee sees challenges in breaking down agencies' FOIA requests by record type, request type, or requester type and in obtain- ing FOIA logs with descriptions detailed enough to get the data needed for analysis. The Obama administration has made improving FOIA a priority. The "Sec- ond Open Government National Action Plan," issued at the end of 2013, set forth ve commitments to modernizing FOIA, including a consolidated online FOIA service. Still, efforts to ful ll FOIA requests continue to fall short even as the government answers them in record numbers. The Center for Effective Government said earlier this year that technology could help the top 15 federal agencies, which process the most requests, provide more timely responses. Alexander Howard, who runs the E Pluribus Unum blog about government information technology, lauded 18F's effort. "This is a perfect example of 'lean government,' or the application of lean startup principles and agile develop- ment to the creation of citizen-centric services in the public sector," he wrote. "18F has now committed to creating software that improves how requests made under the Freedom of Informa- tion Act can be improved through technology." • BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ Hub aims to traffic frequent FOIA requests The team at 18F is looking to build tools that will improve the request submission experience, create a scalable infrastructure for requests and make it easier for people to find information that's already publicly available, according to a post by the team on the 18fblog. "Currently, we're coding our own open source technology from scratch," said Raphael Majma from the 18F project team. "What features get included in that is still up for grabs, but we are approaching this project with a focus on the user experience from the requester perspective. That means trying to add value to how requests are made, how users are routed to the appropriate agency and how to best surface related information to the requester that is already publicly available." Majma and his teammates have been working on the app for only a few months. They're using an agile approach, releasing code and new product aspects regularly. "We will move to production when we and our stakeholders are satisfied with a version that feels publicly viable," Majma said. "In the meantime, our alpha and beta phases will all be developed in the open, and we don't believe testing ever ends. We will continue to test, tweak, and improve through and beyond the 'testing phase.' 18f tech team's approach to FOIA 4 GCN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 • GCN.COM