Justice, 18F Partner for Government-wide FOIA Portal

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The goal is a centralized system for processing Freedom of Information Act requests.

If all goes according to plan, you'll soon be able to submit Freedom of Information Act requests to any agency through one streamlined website. 

At least, that's what the Justice Department and the General Services Administration's digital consulting team 18F are hoping to achieve; the two groups are collaborating on a national FOIA portal that would save users the hassle of searching each agency's website for its unique request system. 

The Freedom of Information Act allows the public to request certain federal records. The 2016 FOIA Improvement Act requires agencies to make records available online if they've been requested three or more times; and that the Office of Management and Budget oversee the creation of a consolidated request portal, interoperable with the portals for other agencies. 

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DOJ has been working on plans for a national FOIA portal since at least 2010, when it launched FOIA.gov, designed to educate users about the request process.

The new program isn't the first time 18F and DOJ have collaborated; as far back as 2014, 18F has been helping DOJ modernize the request process by redesigning the online request submission system, sketching out a "scalable infrastructure" for agency requests, and other technology that might help people find records online. 

DOJ's Office of Information Policy this week urged citizens to provide feedback about the user experience during the development process, and to email them at National.FOIAPortal@usdoj.gov by April 28 if interested.  

“Building off previous work and research with FOIA users, OIP and 18F will focus on user research and discovery of issues necessary to inform future development,” a blog post said.