Freedom of Information Act Updates 2016

07.19.2016

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The US just took one more step toward a more open, transparent government. Fifty years after President Lyndon B Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into law, it remains in full force and has now been strengthened by President Obama. Prior to signing the new FOIA Improvement Act, Mr. Obama said, “The Freedom of Information Act is one of the key ways in which citizens are able to find out what exactly is going on in government,” showing his support for the bill and his desire to strengthen it.

The main improvements/changes that the Improvement Act makes to the FOIA are:

  • Federal agencies now must release information unless there is a legal reason to withhold it, which must be specified.
  • A centralized FOIA request website, which will allow people to find the right office to request information from, track requests online and figure out if the information they want has already been publicly released.
  • Implementation of a “release to one is to release to all” policy, which encourages agencies to proactively post their FOIA responses online.

 

What do the FOIA updates mean for you and your business?

It means that, more than ever, you must be able to provide the right information in a timely matter when it is asked for. Transparency acts such as the FOIA are adapting and gaining momentum, and it is critical that you keep up with them. It is better to be proactive here than to be reactive. Imagine if you were asked today, for example, to produce all of the emails sent from John to Jane from five months ago to three months ago. Could you produce them? Maybe you could, but if you do not already have the right archiving solution in place, the man hours required to produce them would be extremely costly. Look at the IRS, for example. In May of 2014 alone, they incurred nearly 10 million dollars in direct costs responding to requests from congress. (according to the FCW)  In 2011 they had to respond to congress by saying that they had lost requested emails, which also brought about additional fines and reputation loss. The damage could have been mitigated or avoided altogether with prior implementation of an effective archiving solution.

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Archiving solutions are incredibly more cost effective than taking on the fines, sanctions, and penalties involved with missing information. The best archiving solutions store all your business email, mobile, and/or social communication so that it will be at your fingertips when you need it most. The messages  are kept in a centralized, searchable archive that provides quick and easy access. The best benefit is that your organization will save time and money because it runs seamlessly in the background, requiring little manual labor from your employees. Additional savings are gained by providing your end-users direct access to their archived communication. They can search, view, and recover messages with no help or requests from your IT department. Your employees will also be motivated to act in an honest manner, knowing that all of their electronic communication is being managed, stored, and can be reviewed at a moment’s notice. The pro’s of implementing such a solution far outweigh the cons. In fact, there are no valid reasons not to implement an archiving solution, especially now that the government is asking for more transparency!

GWAVA can help! Retain is a unified archiving software that stores all email, mobile, and social media communication in one central archive, with built in search tools that make eDiscovery simple and easy. Policies can be set to determine what information will be stored. Once information is stored, Retain also has the ability to publish and redact information. It can then be published in different formats, such as PDF and PST files, or exported to the StandAlone Archive viewer. There, the information can be redacted so that only the desired information is available and confidential information is not. Features such as these make Retain your ultimate tool in protecting your company against data/information loss, and will be extremely valuable to you when you need to produce critical information.

Click here to learn more about Retain’s features

Or click here to request a free demo of Retain!

Jeff Schultz
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