The compliance landscape has changed significantly in recent years, and government agencies are under more pressure than ever to meet stringent regulations. This is true in the realm of Freedom of Information Act requests.
To ensure that all relevant information is disclosed in a FOIA request, government agencies often require compliance eDiscovery. This article will explore why eDiscovery solutions are crucial for FOIA requests and how they can help government agencies meet their compliance obligations.
What Is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that gives the public the right to request access to government records. It took effect in 1967, and since then, it has been used by journalists, historians, lawyers, businesses, and ordinary citizens to obtain information about the government’s activities.
Under the FOIA, government agencies must disclose any information requested under the Act unless it falls into one of nine exempt categories. According to FOIA.gov data, 26% of requests (about 204,000) received no response in 2020, which the government explained occurs when the requested information cannot be found or is backlogged.
Individuals or businesses may make FOIA requests for various reasons, ranging from corporations gathering information on competitors to lawyers obtaining valuable law enforcement information for their clients.
To fulfill a FOIA request, government agencies must search for and produce any records that are responsive to the request. This could be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, especially if the agency does not have an efficient way to search for and manage its records. That’s where compliance eDiscovery solutions come in.
7 Reasons to Use eDiscovery Solutions for FOIA Requests
1. To Ensure Compliance with the Law
The FOIA requires government agencies to produce any records that are responsive to a request, regardless of the format. This can include emails, documents, images, video, audio, etc. To comply with the law, agencies need to have a way to search for and review all relevant records, regardless of where they are stored.
2. To Save Time and Resources
Producing records in response to a FOIA request can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. eDiscovery solutions can help government agencies save time and resources by automating the search and review of records.
3. To Improve Accuracy
Advanced eDiscovery platforms use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help identify relevant records. This can alleviate some agencies’ accuracy of their FOIA responses and avoid disclosing irrelevant or sensitive information.
4. To Manage Large Volumes of Data
Government agencies often deal with large volumes of data, and manual review can be impractical or even impossible. eDiscovery solutions can help agencies manage large data sets by automatically identifying and reviewing relevant records.
5. To Protect Sensitive Information
Due to the sensitive nature of some government records, only relevant information must be disclosed in response to a FOIA request. eDiscovery technology can protect sensitive data by identifying and redacting privileged or sensitive documents.
6. To Meet Deadlines
The FOIA needs agencies to respond to requests within 20 business days unless the request is complex or involves a large volume of records. With the help of the latest software solutions, government agencies can more easily meet these deadlines.
7. To Improve Transparency
The FOIA is designed to promote transparency, and eDiscovery solutions can help government agencies improve their FOIA responses and make them more transparent. This way, they can more easily find and disclose relevant records, which can help the public better understand the government’s activities.
There are multiple good reasons for government agencies to use eDiscovery solutions for FOIA requests. Therefore, you need to carefully select a platform to help you meet all of your FOIA requirements.