Metro-East News

St. Clair County implements online FOIA system

St. Clair County has launched a new online system for Freedom of Information of Act requests.

People can now logon to the county’s FOIAXpress system, a system used by more than 200 government agencies and offices.

The software allows the county to “facilitate government openness and transparency,” according to a news release. People who submit requests through the system are now able to track their requests through the online portal.

Requesters create user accounts, which enables them to check the status of their requests and download the county’s response through the system.

County officials said the system will reduce data entry time, cut FOIA processing time, reduce delays and backlogs, and increase efficiency.

“This software provides a secure, reliable method for the county to process the growing number of FOIA requests while reducing costs,” St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern said. “We continually strive for greater transparency, higher productivity and to facilitate greater citizen interaction.”

Before the system was in place FOIA requests came into different departments within the county and were sent to the county’s FOIA officer, Sean Murley.

Murley will still review requests, said Dave Lang, director of the county’s Information Systems.

The system also has automatic redaction tools that can be used to black-out personal information such as social security numbers, Lang said.

“It’s not a manual process any more,” he said.

Although he didn’t have an exact number of requests the county receives, Lang said the volume of requests was a motivation to implement the new system.

“We do get a lot of FOIA requests,” Lang said.

The city of Belleville also has an online FOIA portal for people to file requests.

To visit the new St. Clair County FOIA online system, go to http://foia.co.st-clair.il.us/palMain.aspx.

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

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