This morning we were pleasantly surprised to find that an electronic version of the report the MSPB released to us under the FOIA had been added to FOIAOnline’s database. One of the supposed benefits of the FOIAOnline system is that once an agency using FOIAOnline releases a record, it can easily make it available to the public. This is intended to help cut down on the number of duplicate requests because users are encouraged to search for previously released records before filing their request. Obviously, these searches will not help cut down on similar requests, however, if searches don’t turn up the correct documents.
We decided to test FOIAOnline’s search system by looking for the report that had been released to us by the MSPB. To make it easier to find the record, we only searched for released documents at the MSPB.
Unfortunately, searches on terms we assumed anyone interested in records management would use – electronic records and records management – turned up no results — likely because the record is not appropriately meta-tagged.
The only search that did turn up a copy of the MSPB report used the last name of the requester — certainly not a general search term someone interested in records management would think to use.
It’s great that the report is now available in an electronic format, but to fully reap the benefits of the system, it must be appropriately meta-tagged and findable.