Journalists, think tanks, and not-for-profit organizations know the pain of filing for FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. These government record requests form the backbone of many projects and investigations–and they’re often tedious and complicated to file. But one organization wants to streamline the process with a new automated system that they call a “TurboTax for FOIA requests.”
The FOIA Machine, from the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, is currently in alpha testing. According to its creators, the software eases the “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, and share request blueprints.”
A Kickstarter for the project is currently online, with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri offering matching funds up to $15,000 in donations. Funds will primarily go to setting up notifications for users when government agencies fill their information requests.