FOI Assist Tech Demo #1: Interim Fee Estimate Tool

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I am delighted to announce the release of the first FOI AssistTM technology demo: the Interim Fee Estimate Tool.


This is a free-to-use demo of one of the features of the FOI AssistTM software.  This feature provides an easy way to prepare both an interim fee estimate and the corresponding letter back to the requestor.

The Interim Fee Estimate Tool significantly reduces the time and effort involved in creating an interim fee estimate, and helps improve the accuracy of the resulting fee estimates.  It is intended for use by provincial and municipal institutions in Ontario who respond to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests under either the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) or the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).


1. Visit in your web browser:

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2. Fill out the information pertaining to the FOI file that you would like to generate the fee estimate for, such as its file number, file name, the current wording of the request, etc:

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3. Decide whether to use the “Search Sample Method” (recommended for files with over $100 in expected fees).  This will enable using a small sample of the records and generating the fee estimate based on that sample:

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4. Fill in the information under “Fee Estimate Calculation”, such as the estimated % size of the search sample, the number of hours to search the sample, the number of pages of responsive records found in the sample, etc., or, enter the estimated values for completing the full search directly.

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5. After you have filled in the information above, scroll down further to see the resulting fee estimate:

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6. Next, fill in the remaining information to complete the fee estimate form:

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7. Once the remaining information has been entered into the form, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “Generate Template Letter” button to automatically prepare a draft letter for the requestor:

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8. Copy-and-paste the resulting letter into a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) for reviewing, finalizing, formatting and printing.  You can use the “Copy Letter to Clipboard” button in the form to copy the letter to the clipboard.  Then, open a blank document in Microsoft Word (or your word processor of choice) and paste the text of the letter into your word processor (push Ctrl+V on Windows).

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9. As a final step, for good record-keeping practices, it is recommended that you use the “Print Fee Estimate Form” to print a copy of the Interim Fee Estimate Form you have created and store it in the FOI file.  (Printing with “landscape” paper orientation is recommended.)

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  1. This is a preview of technology which is still under development; please notify me of any undesired behaviour or unexpected results. I would also welcome your suggestions for improving the tool or making it more useful to you.
  2. The Interim Fee Estimate Tool forms just one part of the FOI AssistTM software currently under development. Further demonstrations of the FOI Assist software are in progress.
  3. The draft letter produced by the Interim Fee Estimate Tool will still have some information in square brackets that will need to be filled in by the user, such as the [REQUESTOR NAME], the [REQUESTOR STREET ADDRESS], the [PAYEE INFORMATION FOR THE INSTITUTION], etc.  Later, using the full FOI Assist software, this information will already be known by the system and will not have to be filled in each time a letter is generated; however, when using this standalone technology demo, this information will need to be added to the draft letter manually each time.

If you find this tool useful, I encourage you to share it with your colleagues by sending them a link to the demo:

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.  You can send me a note using the contact page.

If you’d like to stay engaged with updates and see further pre-release previews and demos of the FOI Assist software, please follow the FOI Assist blog.  To subscribe, simply enter your email address at the bottom of the page then click the follow button.

Published by Justin Petrillo

I have created the FOI Assist™ software to help Ontario’s provincial and municipal government institutions of all sizes track and respond to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. For most of my career I have been a lawyer, advising clients on commercial, intellectual property and FOI/privacy issues. From 2013 to 2015, I managed the FOI program for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee while serving as Legal Counsel to the Games. Prior to becoming a lawyer, I obtained a computer science degree and worked as a software developer at several well-known technology companies.

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