Five Ways FOI Processing Software Can Simplify Annual Reporting
As we near the end of the first month of 2023, what’s on your mind?
It might be: are you staying on track with your resolutions – time to check – are you sticking to them? It will soon be income tax time – should we put money in an RRSP?
If you work in the privacy field, you may be thinking that it’s time to start thinking about your year-end Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) report.
I remember when my FOI Supervisor closed her door for what seemed to be three days straight, collecting all the required information from the access and privacy requests received during the previous calendar year. Yes, manually counting the number of requests, the amount of fees collected, and whether they provided access, partial access or denied access. What exemptions did they use? What timeline were the files completed in?
Well, times have changed. Yes, the IPC year-end report is still required. It helps organizations stay on track for meeting legislated timelines and makes them accountable to the IPC and transparent to the public regarding how they handle access requests – just as it did back in the day. What has changed then? Technology. Thank goodness because eventually, I became the person responsible for producing that year-end IPC report.
Before I became the FOI Coordinator/Supervisor for my institution, we started using FOI automation software. This was a game-changer. When it came time for the year-end report, all I had to do was go into the software and select the “Year-End report” option. Everything was before my eyes. The number of requests received in the year, the requests carried over from the previous year, the fees collected, the processing time, the exemptions used, and more. It was all there.
The benefits of using FOI software extend far beyond just the year-end report. Here are five key ways in which FOI processing software can simplify your annual reporting:
- 1. Improved efficiency: With FOI software, you can automate the file number assignment and due date of all new requests, saving you significant time and effort.
- 2. Automate compliance: FOI software can help you identify the different stages and timelines for each access request, ensuring that you meet your legal obligations.
- 3. Tracking of exemptions: With FOI software, you can easily track which exemptions were used for each request, which can help you ensure that you are using the correct exemptions and that you are in compliance with the IPC.
- 4. Departmental tracking: FOI software allows you to track all requests sent to various departments within your organization, including the assigned due dates, which can help you manage your workflow more efficiently.
- 5. Fee tracking: With FOI software, you can easily track all fees charged, collected, and waived, which can help you manage your budget more effectively.
As an experienced information access and privacy professional, I can attest to the benefits of FOI processing software. It provides improved efficiency, compliance, tracking of exemptions, departmental tracking and fee tracking, making it an essential tool for any organization that receives access requests. You too can make your FOI process and year-end report easier!
Sherry Joyes is an experienced information access and privacy professional with over 25 years working in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy field. She has been responsible for providing training on an individual level as well as in group settings. She is passionate about her work and always willing to share her knowledge.