Can you give 5 minutes for FOIA Online?

For Sunshine Week 2013, SGI member groups are surveying federal agencies to help promote FOIA Online, a system to make, process, and view FOIA requests – and we need your help!

The “FOIA Online” site, which OGIS, EPA, and the Department of Commerce launched last fall as a web-based aggregation of FOIA requests and responses, is designed for agencies, requesters, and the general public. So far, six agencies are participating. Ultimately, though, we want each of the hundred federal agencies to provide FOIA requests and responses to the collection, to fulfill its potential.

Thus, we are asking you to pick an agency below, ask them a few questions and report the answers to us. It should take you 5 minutes.

We are gathering the answers. Our hope is to boost awareness and participation.

It may help to describe FOIA Online briefly before asking the following questions, e.g., “FOIA Online is a system to let the public and agencies view and process FOIA requests online.”

1. Is [the agency] familiar with FOIA Online?
2. If so: Is [the agency] committed to being on FOIA Online within the next year?
3. What factors contributed to [the agency’s] decision?

We will keep track in the tables below. To volunteer to contact an agency, email us at You may wish to contact the FOIA Public Liaison or the Chief FOIA Officer; has posted a list of agencies’ FOIA personnel contact information (see the link below the buttons on that page for the full agency list).

Thank you for your interest and support. Stay tuned for further updates.

RESPONDED (Agencies from which we have responses)
Department or Agency Familiar with FOIA Online? Committed to joining FOIA Online? What factors contributed to agency’s decision?
Environmental Protection Agency Yes Joined
Department of Commerce (all but PTO) Yes Joined (PTO scheduled to join)
Department of Treasury (some offices) Yes Joined (in part)
National Archives and Records Administration Yes Joined
Federal Labor Relations Authority Yes Joined
Merit Systems Protection Board Yes Joined
Dept. of Health & Human Services Yes No Have some FOIA features on agency website already
Dept. of Transportation Yes No Studying FOIAonline; one office has specialized FOIA-processing needs
Dept. of Veterans Affairs Yes No Ongoing contractual obligation for at least one year
Agency for International Development No No Just learned of program
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency No (no response yet) Just learned of program
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Yes No Cost
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Yes No Existing contract for electronic/online FOIA services
Federal Trade Commission Yes No Transition would be costly; happy with existing system
General Services Administration Yes Can’t say yet Further research required
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Yes Can’t say Declined to discuss ongoing budget/policy process
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Yes No Still researching FOIAonline
Office of Management and Budget Yes No Cost
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Yes No Not going to switch soon
Small Business Administration Yes No Just set up new system
Tennessee Valley Authority Yes Can’t say yet Learned about it only recently
United States Postal Service No No Have some FOIA features on agency website already
PENDING RESPONSE (Agencies someone has already offered to contact)
Departments Agriculture, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, HUD, Interior, Justice, Labor, State
TO BE CALLED (Agencies we need someone to contact)
ACUS – Administrative Conference of the United States
ABMC – American Battle Monuments Commission
Amtrak – Amtrak
AFRH – Armed Forces Retirement Home
BBG – Broadcasting Board of GovernorsCSHIB – Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
CCR – Commission on Civil Rights
CPPBSD – Committee for Purchase from People who are Blind or Severely Disabled
CFTC – Commodity Futures Trading Commission
CFPB – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CIGIE – Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency
CNCS – Corporation for National and Community Service
DNFSB – Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
CEQ – Council on Environmental Quality
ONDCP – Office of National Drug Control Policy

OSTP – Office of Science and Technology Policy
USTR – Office of the United States Trade Representative
EIB – Export-Import Bank
FCA – Farm Credit Administration
FCSIC – Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation

FEC – Federal Election Commission
FERC – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FFIEC – Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council
FHFA – Federal Housing Finance Agency
FMC – Federal Maritime Commission

FMCS – Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
FMSHRC – Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
FOMC – Federal Open Market Committee
FRTIB – Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
IMLS – Institute of Museum and Library Services

IAF – Inter-American Foundation
LSC – Legal Services Corporation
MCC – Millennium Challenge Corporation
NCPC – National Capital Planning Commission
NCUA – National Credit Union Administration

NEA – National Endowment for the Arts
NEH – National Endowment for the Humanities
NIGC – National Indian Gaming Commission
NMB – National Mediation Board
OSHRC – Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

OGE – Office of Government Ethics
ONHIR – Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation
OSC – Office of Special Counsel
OPIC – Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Peace Corps – Peace Corps

PRC – Postal Regulatory Commission
RRB – Railroad Retirement Board
RATB – Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
SSS – Selective Service System
SIGAR – Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

SIGIR – Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
STB – Surface Transportation Board
USADF – United States African Development Foundation
USCO – United United States Copyright Office
USIBWC – United States International Boundary Waters Commission

USITC – United States International Trade Commission
USTDA – United States Trade and Development Agency

4 thoughts on “Can you give 5 minutes for FOIA Online?”

  1. Why isn’t HUD on this list? I sent at least 2 FOI requests for which I never received a response. I guess no one cares about lead-based paint safe homes for children.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Actually, we do care about the workings of HUD, and that’s why HUD has already been assigned to a volunteer along with a few dozen other agencies. (You’ll find HUD under “Agencies someone has already offered to contact.”) Your message raises the point that the agencies could be arranged more clearly, so we’ll make some changes to make it easier to find an agency you’re interested in.


  3. EPA is into its second FOIA scandal of this year. First the revelation of the EPA chief’s secret ‘alias’ email account and the second is EPA giving preferential treatment to environmental groups, made it harder for conservative groups to obtain government records.

    With this track record – who in the First Amendment Rights community is willing to trust EPA on anything related to FOIA. Perhaps EPA should be more concerned about FOIA compliance than trying to build FOIAonline.

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