Knight Open Government Report: Despite Progress, Federal Government Must Speed Up Access to Public Information

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Maker of Public Records Tracker™ Says App Offers Simple Way For Agencies to Comply with Federal FOIA & Technology Mandates

We’re finding that many federal agencies have adopted Public Records Tracker because they can essentially kill two birds with one stone.

At its current rate of progress, the federal government will still be trying to comply with the “Obama Freedom of Information Act” after the President’s first term in office expires, according to the Knight Open Government Survey 2011.

Issued earlier this spring by the National Security Archive, the report found that despite some compliance, “government at all levels seems to have a great deal of trouble obeying its own transparency laws,” and that there were, “persisting deep problems including FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests marooned for years in never-ending referrals among agencies.”

These and related problems can be addressed simply and quickly, according to the developers of Public Records Tracker™ (PRT), a cloud-based solution for helping government agencies in streamlining the FOIA process.

“While the Knight Report is certainly a wake up call for federal government, it also represents an opportunity for agencies to make compliance a priority that is easily achievable,” said John Schloemann, vice president for Eskel Porter Consulting, the information technology consulting firm that developed PRT and has been providing government technology solutions for more than three decades.

He noted that not only does PRT address the FOIA mandates, but also relieves pressure on federal chief information officers to identify and move government services to “cloud” computing – another Obama Administration mandate.

“We’re finding that many federal agencies have adopted PRT because they can essentially kill two birds with one stone,” said Schloemann.

In December, the White House issued a, “25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Management Technology Management.” This plan requires that federal agencies must move towards a “cloud first” policy, meaning that every agency must identify three “must move” services within three months, and have one of those services on the cloud by the end of 2011. Another two must be migrated by the middle of the following year.

Schloemann said that Public Records Tracker is an ideal “must move” federal government cloud computing application for the following reasons:

  •     Relative to other database systems that store government information and intellectual property, the management of FOIA requests in the “cloud” is relatively low risk by comparison.
  •     With the changes that have occurred in government transparency, which have affected FOIA response requirements over the past two years, federal agencies can benefit from the automatic updates and upgrades that come with a “cloud” application to meet changes at no additional cost.
  •     Public Records Tracker is a proven FOIA management system, pre-approved for federal agency cloud computing use and is available through GSA’s Apps.Gov.

Public Records Tracker is affordable at a time when tax revenues are falling at the same time public information requests are on the rise, according to Schloemann. It’s available for a monthly subscription rate of just $125 per user.

“Our cloud application provides a proven way for federal CIO’s to address FOIA and cloud-computing mandates in a way that is economical, flexible, fast and proven,” said Schloemann. “There is really no reason for a federal agency to be non-compliant because an easy solution is already available.”

More information on Public Records Tracker, including an online product demonstration, can be found at http://www.publicrecordstracker.com.

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Stevan Allen
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