FOIA Software Aims to Ease Request Burden

WASHINGTON (05/09/2000) - New software allows the receiving and processing of Freedom of Information Act requests online.

FOIAXpress, from ANIS Inc., allows users to create an account on an agency's World Wide Web site, so that they can request information, receive progress reports and download the resulting information.

Any government agency that deals with FOIA requests can buy the software. ANIS would then tailor the software to the particular laws of the state or agency and attach the system to the agency's current Web site. If the agency doesn't have a site, one will be created.

Cristina Farr, ANIS spokeswoman, said the software makes it easier for users to stay updated on the progress of the request and increases the efficiency of the FOIA officers.

"Because the user is filling out the forms electronically, it allows the FOIA officer to spend more time on processing the requests instead of inputting data," she said.

Once an account is established and a request is made, a FOIA officer for the particular agency will review the application to ensure it fits the law. The officer can then use the FOIAXpress software to automatically inform the individual who requested the information whether the request was accepted.

An e-mail message is then posted on the individual's online account (which can only be accessed by a password and user name).

As the process continues, e-mail feedback is continually provided about the status of the request, including any applicable fees. The request can also be canceled online at any time.

Finally, depending on the requester's wishes, the final document can either be posted online so it can be downloaded, or mailed conventionally.

ANIS Inc. is an information technology firm based in Rockville, Maryland, that specializes in Web development, e-commerce solutions, and custom software development.

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