FOIA Ombudsman Launches Online Case Management System

The National Archives Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) – the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman – launched a new online case management system on November 28.

The new OGIS Access System (OAS) will manage the requests for assistance that FOIA requesters and agencies bring to OGIS. This tool will both streamline OGIS’s work and increase transparency of its operations.

More than 1,200 FOIA requesters from 48 states and 13 foreign countries turned to OGIS for assistance in its first two years as FOIA Ombudsman. The service that OGIS provides ranges from checking the status of delayed FOIA requests to facilitating resolutions of disputes involving complex database requests. While OGIS has successfully resolved hundreds of cases, the Office recognizes the need for greater collaboration with agencies and a more systematic way of collecting information about its work. The OAS – which is supported by and integrated into a re-launched and expanded OGIS website – will help the Office achieve these goals.

“OGIS was created to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies,” said OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet. “As we began our work, we realized that we needed an increased web presence to both manage our cases and educate requesters about the FOIA process. Our new OGIS Access System will help us achieve these goals.”

OAS is among the first generation of federal government online services operating in “the cloud.” This approach allows OGIS to launch a number of scalable online services, including:

  • A searchable library of FOIA terms and concepts;
  • An online submission process for those requesting OGIS’s assistance;
  • The ability to review the status of a case with OGIS and communicate directly with OGIS staff; and
  • The capability to engage with the public on ways to improve FOIA, which also is within the OGIS mission.