The FOI Assist software recommends next steps, but keeps the institution in full control of the process. It also maintains complete file histories and gives an overview of recent events.
When preparing correspondence, FOI Assist prompts the user to enter or confirm the relevant information for each step. Disclosure exemptions are set out in checklists for the user to select from. Each task becomes a linear process, which helps ensure they are done correctly. Every screen offers context-sensitive help.
FOI Assist was designed specifically to help institutions comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection Of Personal Information Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection Of Personal Information Act (MFIPPA). All decision letters, fee estimates, affected person notices and other correspondence are created in compliance with the Acts and official guidance.
The software prompts you to provide the information required for each step, and then generates an appropriate response, estimate or decision. Errors of omission are significantly reduced, because the user is prompted for all of the information required for each task. Calculation errors are eliminated
Fewer errors means fewer files are appealed. Bases for overturning the institution’s decision (such as calculation errors, or incorrect application of exemptions) are reduced or eliminated. The software makes it easy to generate a file history, which can be helpful if needed in an appeal. Deadline and clock status tracking also help ensure deadlines are not missed.
Much of the work involved in processing an FOI file takes the form of generating various types of correspondence to the requestor and other stakeholders. The Privacy Commissioner and the Government of Ontario have issued significant amounts of guidance addressing such correspondence and what information must be included. Drafting a letter which complies with these requirements can take hours or even days, especially for more complicated items such as interim fee estimates, affected person notices, and decision letters.
The FOI Assist software runs inside a web browser, making it easy to access from anywhere. There is nothing to install; the software is hosted securely in the cloud.