eDiscovery Daily Blog

Resourcing Your Public Records/FOIA Requests Response with a Lean Team

This is the third blog post in a series on streamlining public records request response.

By Rick Clark

When it comes to managing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and similar public records requests, resourcing your team effectively is crucial. Even with a small team, you can achieve a lot by appointing an expert internally and implementing a few key strategies. Begin by identifying which departments receive the most FOIA requests. Assign a lead within each department to work closely with the FOIA Clerk or the person responsible for managing FOIA requests within your organization. For example, in a city with 100,000 residents, your FOIA team might include a clerk, the administrative staff for the Public Works Department, the Building Department, and any other relevant departments. The clerk should be the central point of contact for FOIA requests, but the leads in each department should be responsible for ensuring their department meets deadlines and provides the necessary information to the clerk in a timely manner.

Collaborate as a team to create a plan for sharing and retaining documents. By proactively publishing information that the community is interested in, you can reduce the number of FOIA requests over time. This not only saves time but also increases transparency and engagement with the community. Establishing clear goals can help drive improvements in your FOIA process. Consider goals such as reducing delivery times for responses, minimizing the internal time spent on each request, and increasing the overall efficiency of your team. Regularly review these goals and adjust your strategies as needed to achieve them.

Make the most of available technology to streamline your FOIA process. Ensure your team is fully trained in using any software or tools that can help reduce the time spent fulfilling requests. This might include data/document management systems, request tracking software, or other tools designed to improve efficiency and organization.

As data volumes and variety grow, it will be important to augment people and processes to accommodate the growing requests or press your software provider to enhance the platforms for more efficient data management.

By implementing these strategies and appointing an internal expert to lead your FOIA team, you can effectively manage public records requests even with limited resources.

Read our first blog post in this series, “Growing Challenges with Public Records Requests.”

To find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set time to meet with us.

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.