FOIA Machine: Because Prying Secrets Out of Washington is Hard FOIA Machine: Because Prying Secrets Out of Washington is Hard
FOIA Machine: Because Prying Secrets Out of Washington is Hard
To make government accountable, people have to know the facts. But prying secrets out of Washington or any governmental agency is hard. Support our Kickstarter to combat this!
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) says that everyone has the right to get access to governmental information, in the form of public records requests. However, this does not mean getting access to the information is easy. FOIA is extremely complex and the government doesn’t just hand all documents over easily.
“Just because information is supposed to be public doesn’t mean it’s easy to get,” says Michael Corey, a news applications developer at The Center for Investigative Reporting. “In the real world, requesting public records means being a quasi-legal expert for whatever jurisdiction you want records for, and the process can often take a year or longer.”
CIR and the FOIA Machine to the rescue
A team of journalists and technology experts is building and developing an online platform called FOIA Machine.
FOIA Machine is an integrated web platform developed by veteran investigative reporters and technology pros. It’s like TurboTax for government records.
We’re streamlining the whole complicated process of filing and tracking public record requests, putting all of the steps, rules, exceptions and best practices in one place and allowing users to track requests on dashboards, receive alerts, share request blueprints and get social support from the FOIA Machine community. This new platform is open and free for anyone.
The Center for Investigative Reporting is serving as an incubator while the project is being prototyped. Once FOIA Machine launches, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a national non-profit housed at the Missouri School of Journalism, will host the project.
FOIA Machine needs your help
The Freedom of Information Act became law on July 4, 1966 – and it’s been fighting for its life ever since. Presidents and Congress have tried to make it harder to use. Sometimes they’ve been successful; sometimes they haven’t. CIR and FOIA Machine will help keep the laws strong by using them tenaciously and teaching others how to do the same.
Today, FOIA Machine can generate, edit and send requests to government agencies fairly well. It's useable but it's not ready for the general public.
That's why we created a Kickstarter project. We're asking for your help to finish development, improve design and pay for servers and data curation.
We launched our Kickstarter on July 16th with a goal of $17,500. The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute committed to match every Kickstarter pledge up to $15,000, giving the team enough to launch. The Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal within the first 48 hours. The FOIA Machine team is pulling together a list of new improvements and features to develop with the additional funding.
Now in its alpha phase, FOIA Machine currently has 15 users sending real freedom of information requests, but there are hundreds of people waiting to use it. Be part of this project to open up our government. Go to Kickstarter now!
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.
What to Do When Your Country is Drowning The effects of climate change are literally swallowing entire countries.
The Rise of Drone Pizza Delivery Why the skies will soon be filled with flying, snack-bearing robots
How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.
Follow the Crowd NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence Why online gaming may just be the future of science
The Empathy Mirror Neurofeedback enables us to better see ourselves in the other. Recent discoveries in neurofeedback can teach you to be less of a dick.
Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care
Don’t Turn Away Colin Finlay photographs the consequences of climate change. You will never see more beautiful photos of the deteriorating state of our planet than the ones in this photo feature.
Puppy Love How dogecoin spawned an improbable community of giving What a canine-emblazoned cryptocurrency can teach about philanthropy
Positive In, Positive Out: How a USC Alumna is Coping with Lymphoma Coast Guard Reserves member Cassie Sulfridge, 28, had just graduated from MSW@USC, the Southern California university’s web-based Master of Social Work program, and was working two jobs when her life was turned upside down.
Politics by Yummier Means An Israeli-Palestinian popup restaurant and the precarious art of gastric diplomacy Two chefs win over hearts, minds, and stomachs in Jerusalem.
Rag Time Seven seriously f’d up t-shirts that somehow made their way onto shelves Brazil’s “lookin’ to score” tee is, unfortunately, part of a recent tradition of aberrant apparel.
LeBron James Complicates Cleveland's Comeback Story Returning to Cleveland, LeBron James contends with a city’s past and conflicting views of its future