IRS turning to VeFOIA

The Internal Revenue Service is planning to use a software program known as VeFOIA to turn its overloaded paper-based Freedom of Information Act request system into an electronic one within the coming year.

The software was developed by Vredenburg, a Reston, Va.-based document and record management company, and is widely used throughout government by agencies that handle a large volume of FOIA requests, including the FBI, the CIA and the National Archives and Records Administration.

Larry Den, Vredenburg's senior vice president for information technology, said Jan. 6 that the software would fully automate the FOIA response process at the IRS, which receives as many as 70,000 requests a year.

The multiyear contract for VeFOIA was awarded under the Treasury Information Processing Support Services 2 contract last year. Vredenburg is a subcontractor with Science Applications International Corp. on the project, according to Den. The IRS has handled all FOIA requests by paper, sometimes taking years to respond to a citizen's request for information, Den said. But Congress has mandated annual government reporting on how long it takes to get a response to an FOIA request and ordered a time limit for acting on requests.

Vredenburg will build a prototype this year that will allow the IRS to turn paper-based requests into electronic files. Each request will get catalogued in a database, and an IRS employee responding to the request will put available documents online or in the system for anyone to retrieve.

"The target of the process is to shorten the cycle time, to make the process less expensive and to more effectively utilize the people they have," said Dyson Richards, Vredenburg's director of IT sales and marketing.

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