This post was originally published on the U.S. Department of Justice Blog. The Office of Information Policy (OIP) is pleased to announce two new topics and dates for our Best Practices Workshop series as we continue this initiative this summer. OIP launched the Best Practices Workshop series in 2014 as a way to share and leverage successes in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) administration across the government. Each workshop in the series focuses on a specific topical area and includes a panel of representatives who share their success stories and strategies.
The Office of Information Policy (OIP) is pleased to announce its collaboration with GSA’s 18F team on the development of a National FOIA Portal. This is the next step in a long line of OIP initiatives working towards a National FOIA Portal going back to 2010 with the launch of FOIA.gov. Most recently, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 required the creation of a National FOIA Portal that is interoperable with agencies’ current systems and allows the public to submit a request for records to any agency from a single website.
On September 7th, the Office of Information Policy (OIP) released an updated version of its Guidance for Agency Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Regulations, along with an updated FOIA Regulation Template. These resources were first issued in March 2016. OIP has updated them to take into account changes made to the FOIA by the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 and by recent court decisions. As described in OIP’s guidance, while many of the FOIA’s requirements are contained directly in the statute and do not need implementing regulations, there are areas where the FOIA specifically requires each agency to publish regulations and still other areas where regulations are permitted.
Algorithms are becoming more important as the amount of data grows, and the complexity of government and business processes grows. Put simply, an algorithm is just a set of steps for solving a problem. If you shop online, use an online social network or a mobile app to plan your route, then you are using an algorithm: A sophisticated algorithm that uses large amounts of data to make hundreds (or thousands) of decisions in milliseconds.
Like many of you, we watched with great interest this week when a citizen submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking them to release to the public Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. While official sources explain that the desired outcome is not possible at this time… …in light of this creative effort, let’s discuss how you too can use FOIA and other Open Government programs to build a better tomorrow.
Many forces are converging to strengthen the political, economic and commercial ties that bind the United States, Canada and Mexico. The GSA Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) has anticipated this drive toward collaboration for decades, building a network of links among the three nations’ Chief Information Officers and other national technology and data experts. Annual OCSIT-sponsored North American Day (NAD) talks have contributed to improved digital services in all three countries.
For months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get leads for the OMB External Use Open Data Survey responses. I’ve attended Google Analytics seminars, asked for survey responses from some of our public facing sites, added a data request form to our /data page, and begged for leads from program owners. The result was very few leads and no indication of whether or not they were people who actually were looking for our data, used our data or just had a website resource access issue.
There are many ways the public can get information from the federal government. For example, you can check out Data.gov to find scores of datasets and APIs, agency websites for information about their work, or other important information in online FOIA Libraries. Or you can also just ask for it. Since 1966, the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, has granted the public the right to access information from the federal government.
Recently, the White House hosted Stakeholder Engagement Workshops—an informal meet-up for citizens and federal agencies to discuss progress on Open Government. The third version of our Open Gov Plan is due June 1st. My Open Innovation teammates and I took the opportunity to attend the event. We gained valuable insights from citizen activists on what they want to see in agency plans, as well as how they will judge our progress on White House mandates for transparency, collaboration, and participation.