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FCW : August 30, 2014
Editor'sNote FCW focuses strictly on federal IT --- that s what the F stands for, after all --- but good ideas can come from anywhere. And a new report from New York is worthwhile reading for anyone working to make government run better. A good-government group called Reinvent Albany took a detailed look at Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, requests made to the Empire State s Department of Environmental Conservation. The goal? To show how agencies can use public demand to decide where to focus their open-data efforts. The report, titled "Listening to FOIL," found that 55 percent of the requests pertained to spills on speci c properties. In other words, the agency could cut its request-processing load in half by opening up a single dataset! At the federal Freedom of Information Act level, a nding like that could translate into serious savings. The Center for Effective Government s most recent FOIA report found that the Department of Homeland Security, for example, has the equivalent of 398 full-time employees devoted to FOIA requests. A previous report showed that the cost per FOIA request ranged from $136 (at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to $8,861 (at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission). And given that agencies already log their FOIA requests, running similar analyses would be a relatively simple proposition. In this age of big data and analytics, let s not overlook the opportunities in small and manageable datasets. None of this is to suggest that Reinvent Albany was the rst to think of triaging government data. President Barack Obama issued a memo on this topic on his rst full day in of ce. The federal FOIA Web portal now publishes requests and the data released in response from several key agencies, and the Data. gov team has worked across government to focus on publishing data the public desires, not just "opening" what is easiest to upload. In general, though, agencies still have a long way to go. Reducing the need for FOIA requests not only makes for more transparent government, it can also reduce costs and workload to free up precious agency resources. The New York report is a good reminder that we should be looking for ef ciencies wherever we can nd them. --- TROY K. SCHNEIDER firstname.lastname@example.org, @troyschneider Finding savings in FOIA August 30, 2014 FCW.COM 5 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Troy K. Schneider EXECUTIVE EDITOR John Bicknell MANAGING EDITOR Terri J. Huck STAFF WRITERS Colby Hochmuth, Sean Lyngaas, Adam Mazmanian, Mark Rockwell CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Richard E. Cohen, Alan Joch, Konstantin Kakaes, John Moore, Colleen O'Hara, Katherine Reynolds Lewis, Richard A. Spires, Sarah Lai Stirland CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jeff Langkau ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR Dragutin Cvijanovic SENIOR WEB DESIGNER Martin Peace EDITORIAL FELLOW Jonathan Lutton PRESIDENT Henry Allain CO-PRESIDENT Anne Armstrong CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER Dan LaBianca CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Carmel McDonagh PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Neal Vitale SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Richard Vitale EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Michael J. Valenti VICE PRESIDENT, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT Erik A. Lindgren VICE PRESIDENT, EVENT OPERATIONS David F. Myers CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Jeffrey S. Klein HOW TO REACH THE STAFF A list of sta members can be found online at www.fcw.com. E-mail: Sta members can be reached by using the nam- ing convention of first initial followed by their last name @1105media.com. Vienna O ce (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m. ET) (703) 876-5100; Fax (703) 876-5126 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500, Vienna, VA 22182-2215 Corporate O ce (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m. PT) (818) 814-5200; Fax (818) 734-1522 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311
September 15, 2014
August 15, 2014