FBI launches new form to accept FOIA requests electronically

People can use the bureau's new eFOIA form to request information

People can now submit Freedom of Information Act requests to the FBI electronically through a new eFOIA form.

The FBI said the new electronic form makes requesting information easier. The bureau said it revamped its records Web site to include a guide for research in FBI Records, details on what happens after you make a request and data on how to file an appeal with the Justice Department.

David Hardy, head of the Record/Information Dissemination Section in the FBI’s Records Management Division, said the bureau’s goal is to make the Web site as user-friendly as possible and to explain the process as clearly as possible.

Previously, the bureau has been criticized for its handling of FOIA requests.


Related article:

FBI cited for worst FOIA responses


In 2009, George Washington University’s National Security Archive gave the FBI its annual Rosemary Award for poor FOIA performance, citing a high percentage of “no records exist" responses to FOIA requests in 2008, and the low percentage of requests that the FBI granted. The award is named for the late Rose Mary Woods, the secretary to President Richard Nixon who testified that she inadvertently erased several minutes of audiotapes containing secret recordings of Oval Office conversations.

Nate Jones, the Archive’s FOIA coordinator, said the bureau’s new electronic request form and updated Web site are welcome improvements, adding that similar electronic request forms have have made filing FOIA requests easier with other organizations.

“But filing a request is only part of the FOIA process,” Jones said. “We hope that the FBI also increases the quantity of information it releases to the public and decreases the amount of time that it takes for that information to be released.”

 

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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