OCTO's FOIA Portal's Compliance with DC FOIA Law (#OOG-2021-008-M)

The Office of Open Government (OOG) released an Advisory Opinion (AO), on February 17, 2022, regarding the Office of the Chief Technology Officer's (OCTO) Online FOIA Portal, known as "FOIAXpress."(#OOG-2021-008-M) The Advisory Opinion discusses whether FOIAXpress' operations hinder D.C. Freedom of Information Act processing. The AO found that there are some features of FOIAXpress that do directly hinder individuals from receiving “full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees,” so OCTO should make adjustments to the system if the District is going to continue using it to process FOIA requests. The AO recommends that OCTO make the following adjustments to improve the functionality of FOIAXpress: 

  • That the “Request type” drop-down menu be removed so that requesters are not confused by the option of “FOIA-OIG.”
  • That OCTO continue to promote the “Open Data Portal” and consider replacing the “Reading Room” feature “Open Data Portal” in its entirety to eliminate redundancy.
  • The prompt removal of the “Attach Consent Here” field from the request-submission form.
  • That the “Agency Open Government and FOIA Contact Information” site be complete and current, and that OCTO supply a link, via the PAL landing page, that refers requesters to FOIA Officers’ contact information.
  • The prompt removal of references to provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 552 (the federal FOIA statute) and its subdivisions.