FOIA software aims to ease request burden

New software allows the receiving and processing of Freedom of Information

Act requests online.

FOIAXpress, from AINS 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.

AINS 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, AINS 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.

AINS Inc. is an information technology firm based in Rockville, Md., that

specializes in Web development, e-commerce solutions, and custom software

development.

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