Announcing the release of the FOI Assist software

I am very pleased to announce the FOI Assist software is now available for purchase on an annual subscription basis.

What is the FOI Assist software?

The FOI AssistTM software is designed to help Ontario’s provincial and municipal government institutions of all sizes track and respond to Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests quickly, easily, and in full compliance with applicable legislation, directives and guidance.

The FOI Assist software is designed with three main goals:

Increase Productivity

The FOI Assist software makes FOI professionals more efficient and significantly reduces their workload and time spent processing FOI requests.

The deadlines and clock status for each request are tracked automatically, accounting for all adjustments such as time extensions, deposit requests, fee payments, and the affected person process.

Letters that used to take hours to prepare now take only minutes. In most cases, the FOI Assist software generates letters that are ready-to-go with no further adjustments needed.

The Annual Statistical Report is generated automatically based on the file opening and closing information already stored in the system, saving you days or weeks of work.

The system provides an integrated Index Of Records, simplifying your records search process and allowing you to generate a final decision letter in minutes.

Improve Compliance

The FOI Assist software helps your institution respond to requests in accordance with all applicable legislation, directives and guidance, and reduces the risk of errors, appeals and litigation.

The system keeps track of whether a request is valid in accordance with the applicable legislation (FIPPA and MFIPPA) and whether the deadline clock is running or stopped.

Letters are generated in accordance with applicable legislation and the most recent directives and guidance from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPCO) and the Government of Ontario. The FOI Assist software ensures that compliant letters are generated based on the request information stored in the system. This is a significant improvement over relying on templates which may be outdated and can lead to mistakes.

Common errors arising from manual FOI processes are eliminated:

  • Calculation errors are eliminated from Interim Fee Estimates and Decision letters.
  • Deadlines for next steps are clearly tracked and made apparent to the user.
  • Letters contain the language and legislative excerpts mandated by IPCO.
  • Fee requests, deposit requests, and fee payments are tracked within the system.
  • The system ensures that requests for general records and requests for personal information are each treated correctly in accordance with the applicable rules for each type of request.

Make Things Easier

The FOI Assist software is intended to make it easier for FOI professionals to process requests skillfully, correctly and with confidence.

Potential actions are set out in a grid format, making it easy for the FOI professional to determine the appropriate next step to take. Additionally, the system highlights recommend actions, while keeping the FOI professional in complete control of the process.

The FOI professional is prompted to confirm or enter the information relevant for each step, helping ensure no relevant factors or information are overlooked when processing a request.

The system guides you through the process of working with the requestor to fix a defective request, and also helps you to deem files as abandoned where appropriate.

Exemptions and exceptions from the applicable Act are listed where needed, helping the FOI professional decide which exemptions and exceptions may apply to particular records.

Active files are set out in a searchable, sortable list, making it easy for the FOI professional to see which deadlines are coming up and which files should be prioritized. Specific files can be marked as contentious to ensure they receive appropriate consideration and attention.

Status reports can be generated quickly using the information maintained by the system.

The system maintains a file history of all correspondence, notes and events relating to each request, which can help re-familiarize the FOI professional when a file becomes active again after a dormant period. The file history feature also helps an institution meet its obligations in any potential appeal or litigation.

The FOI Request Process Flowchart is integrated into the software, allowing the FOI professional to quickly consult an overview diagram of the FOI process whenever needed.

Finally, the software is well-documented, with detailed, context-sensitive help integrated across the entire application. Email and live support are also available.

How to purchase the FOI Assist software

The FOI Assist software is available now for provincial and municipal institutions in Ontario which respond to FOI requests, including provincial ministries, agencies, provincial boards, commissions, government-funded corporations and non-profits, universities, colleges, hospitals, municipalities, municipal and library boards, health units, and police services.

The software runs in your web browser so there is nothing to install.

If you are interested in purchasing a subscription to the FOI Assist software, or if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send me a note via the contact page.

I would also be happy to show you the FOI Assist software in action and to answer any questions you might have via Zoom or Google Meet. If you would like a demonstration of how the FOI Assist software can save you time and help you respond to FOI files in compliance with applicable legislation and directives, please let me know via the contact page.

Thank you for your interest. I look forward to hearing from you.

The FOI Assist software now available. To receive guidance and tips on processing FOI requests, as well as up-to-date information about the FOI Assist software, please follow the FOI Assist website. 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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