Freedom of Information Act: Key Website Is Generally Reliable, but Action Is Needed to Ensure Completeness of Its Reports

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Justice’s (Justice) website called FOIA.gov presents data from agencies’ annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports. Agencies submit their annual reports to Justice in print and in electronic form and Justice posts the electronic data onto the website. For fiscal year 2010, the data GAO reviewed on the website were generally consistent with the data in the agencies’ print versions. According to Justice officials, the department has taken steps to ensure accuracy and consistency of the data. These steps include providing annual training ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. June 28, 2012.

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This report is part of the collection entitled: Government Accountability Office Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this report can be viewed below.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Justice’s (Justice) website called FOIA.gov presents data from agencies’ annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports. Agencies submit their annual reports to Justice in print and in electronic form and Justice posts the electronic data onto the website. For fiscal year 2010, the data GAO reviewed on the website were generally consistent with the data in the agencies’ print versions. According to Justice officials, the department has taken steps to ensure accuracy and consistency of the data. These steps include providing annual training to agency personnel who are responsible for preparation of the FOIA annual reports and posting guidance for report completion and submission on the Office of Information Policy website. In addition, the department has implemented checks to ensure data consistency between the two report versions. Specifically, it has developed and provided agencies with a tool to be used in creating the electronic version for the website. The tool contains features that assist agencies in compiling their data and math checks to help ensure consistency. Further, Justice officials have a checklist they use as a guide for checking the consistency of the electronic versions of agencies’ annual reports against the print versions. However, FOIA.gov’s “Advanced Reporting” feature, which provides users with the capability to generate custom reports based on user-selected queries, did not always produce complete results. Specifically, certain reports showed data for fewer than the 97 agencies that should have been included. Justice officials stated that they had taken steps to correct the specific instances of incomplete reports that GAO had identified. Nevertheless, GAO’s experience in using FOIA.gov raises concerns about whether the website will produce complete reports in response to all queries."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • June 28, 2012

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Freedom of Information Act: Key Website Is Generally Reliable, but Action Is Needed to Ensure Completeness of Its Reports, report, June 28, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301727/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.