ArkCase FOIA Presentation at the DGI FOIA Automation Conference

This is one of the more interesting titles I’ve gotten this year – How you can ensure all agency FOIA professionals can take their lunch hour every day and here to answer that question is a long-term friend of DGI and supporter Ray Azarm, vice president of Enterprise practice at Armedia and he’s going to tell everyone how you never have to miss another lunch processing FOIA requests take it away Ray.

Thank you, good morning everyone thank you Mike and DGI for having us spend a few minutes with you, thank you for spending your morning with us. So, yes a bit of uh satirical title how to ensure that all FOIA agency professionals take their lunch hours every day. All of that to say that you know obviously we know that folks in the audience are either FOIA professionals or are potentially looking for a FOIA solution.

So all of this is really to talk about how our solution uh called ArkCase FOIA optimizes FOIA transaction processing time. So these are the top 10 reasons that we feel are critical not only that we feel they’re critical but also they’re critical to our customers and with that said I will start going through them and then towards the end I’m going to talk about the product a little bit about the solution and a little bit about the company as well.

So, I think as FOIA professionals we all believe that having a capability to do auto redaction or bulk reduction is important uh the ability to do pattern redaction, the ability to search or create rules uh based on some regular expressions uh like finding PIIs everyone should be able to do it being able to do multi-page reduction, being able to support redacting Excel files natively is critical we do this in partnership with our e-discovery partners like Relativity and others.

Lately we hear video audio is important in processing and redacting that’s also one that we do with our partner Veritone. So this is one area that obviously it’s very important, it’s very impactful to the amount of time that FOIA professionals spend in processing their FOIA requests.

Second probably one of the top reasons is identifying duplicates otherwise known as deduplication or near duplication. And really in a summary we do this in three different ways

Initially – when a requester puts in a request we identify based on some content and based on some matches on some of the key fields that they enter we do a check against the reading room, against all available public records and essentially provide a list of possible matches so that they can potentially it could potentially stop them from continuing with putting their requests in.

Identifying duplicate documents within the application we have an integrated document and Records management system that allows us to identify duplicate documents very quickly on the UI on the user interface and be able to provide that capability to the user so that they don’t have to do duplicate work.

And then last but not least we’re working on identifying duplicate pages in you know within a document. Imagine you have a 5 000 page stock document that’s been comprised of multiple merged documents can we potentially go through and identify duplicate Pages within that document could be critical in our processing of that request.

Having Integrations with the robotic process automation further helps and the examples I have here are the same examples I covered in one and two but robotic process automation can do a lot of things as you can imagine RPS are the capability to be able to configure a robot systematically and programmatically to do something that’s mundane, for example identifying duplicate documents, identifying areas on the document that need to be redacted and then having the capability of having it go through QC because ultimately yes to Mike’s point, robots are or computers in general are a ton better than the smartest of all of us however there is still a need to have that QC as part of the variable in some of this automated work that happens.

Fourth is our integration with e-discovery I think everybody knows what e-discovery is in very large foyer shops being able to sift through large data sets and do that Federated search is important being able to filter out irrelevant information or being able to find relevant information including unpacking PSD files and then obviously being able to run it through an engine to identify any areas that need to be redacted or hidden by running through again redaction or some annotation with exemption records are key and now ultimately producing that back to the requester.

So this is important to have that sort of uh direct handshake with an e-discovery solution when you’re looking at a FOIA solution. All of the DOJ reports I believe there are about 32 of them are available out of the box and we continue to maintain them when Department of Justice has any additional guidance or changes as they go through.

Same goes with Vaughn index, you can generate a Vaughn index within a click of a button and again these things continue to impact the amount of time that it takes to process your FOIA work whether it’s a specific workflow or a request or ultimately to provide for some operational purposes.

Number six is one of my favorite you know having to be able to support analytics and and predictive intelligence. AI is the thing of the future we’ve been talking about AI and Big Data you know for a very long time. We see this in a number of different areas as it pertains to FOIA, for example we had a customer that was spending a ton of money on overtime expenditure and they came to us and said can you use your platform to be able to predict the number of FOIA requests in future months based on of course the historical data right.  AI always needs historical data to be able to accurately Define what the future predictions are like.

The second maybe more sort of technical is by being able to group records together either by concept or relationship you know clustering groups of documents by those concepts can generally bring some additional information without the need for any user input. So I’ll give you an example of that, imagine um let’s say agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they may need to generally well generally the topics that they’re dealing with are things like border crossing, border retention, etc.

If we have clusters that identify certain relationship or information about those keywords that potentially could decrease the number of documents that ICE would need to review when they’re working on a FOIA request. So those are just some of the very simple use cases that again impacts the processing time of of a FOIA request and we should you know be cognizant of that and know what technology can do.

Integration with document records management you heard Dan talk about this this is obviously key you know there’s a lot of documents as you can imagine with FOIA and those documents need to be stored, they need to be managed um during the work of that case they need to have a formalized repository and and that happens within our integrated document management records management and as you know document management everyone knows they can do things like check-in checkout Version Control, but records management becomes maybe even critically more important because you can define a file plan, a retention plan, every disposition plan you can have legal hold of course with dod5015 the compliance becomes critically important and all of those systems must be able to have some sort of access control or role role-based access control and security built into them with the option of having audit trails that are available and used.

Another topic is around intelligent document processing so some of you guys may immediately think about OCR which is correct this is being able to take an image of a document and create in searchable PDF and you know we’ve been doing OCR for 30 years and maybe even more. The ability to create searchable content is something that’s completely out of the box, but for those customers that need to do more than just OCR or extraction of you know Fields, this I call IDPI caller intelligent document processing I call OCR on steroids yeah which means we’re doing OCR yes but how are we able to identify documents within a batch of documents that we have which potentially are comprised of number of different types of dock types.

And then furthermore within each of those doctypes we have specific field information that we need to extract from document A versus document B those are all different. So of course this again takes OCR to the next level it’s not just creating searchable PDF but it’s looking for a very specific content data types within a document and extracting it and then of course as with anything else when we’re relying on computers to do some of these things granted they may be 10 times better than human being there is still an area of quality control that goes into this as well.

So for those customers that require this this is an area that we also support within the application. And then there are a number of Integrations you know we support ArkCase for both federal government as well as state local as well as education public sector of course. Payment Processing for FOIA requests is is top of mind for some of those customers.

So as such for federal cost customers we support pay.gov for others we support other Payment Processing like touchnet and others. There are also other Integrations for federal government like login.gov or foia.gov that we support out of the box.

Another personal favorite of mine is link analysis you know one of the reasons I joined this company was The Innovation that the company constantly thinks of as uh as how we can solve different problems for customers whether they’re FOIA or other types of customers and one of the things that we strive to do is to see what are some of the potential impactful Integrations or technology that we can incorporate into our system that can potentially help some of those users.

Link analysis is one of them, what you’re looking at is the ability to be able to take let’s say a caseworker, let’s say a requester and show their relationship to other entities within their world that may potentially provide some insight to the caseworker to the FOIA professional. What you’re looking at is the data and it’s I know it’s hard to read it’s the data for a particular FOIA requester and specifically their data on on social profile on the net and we can show their relationship to other folks, other requests, there’s other agencies and how they’re related to them this is important in some sensitive uh specific areas uh where we always wanted it would be helpful to know the relationship of that requester to other folks at least in this case in the social world.

This is obviously huge in legal case management uh as well as things like complaint case management which is one of our Solutions as well.

So you know, everybody knows what the FOIA workflow is, you know it starts from an ingestion of a case it goes through acknowledging that case that comes in you know finding documents, reviewing documents that list goes on and on. The idea is how do we impact that workflow and automate that workflow by providing solutions by providing steps to be able to automate it to be able to reduce that quote-unquote transaction processing time.

What we have seen by deploying our solution in a number of customers both in federal as well as state local as well as for some commercial sectors is that this processing time amounts to a little over 70 percent Improvement in that time reduction for processing that so again I’m happy to go over the detail of what this entails uh as we talk through it with you all as well.

So pictorially the workflow again everybody’s familiar with it I’ll go through this very quickly requester puts in a FOIA submission the foia analyst reviews it assesses it potentially talks to the requester about payment and how that’s going to be taken care of. There is a search for document in again in larger entities this is as integration with e-discovery kind of drops in this part then there’s an approval legal review certainly billing and invoice creation and interaction with the payment processing system and then ultimately the response back to the original requester.

There is a public portal but there’s also other ingestion methods that we support as part of the solution. So let me sort of go deeper and talk about what ArkCase is. You know to Mike’s point ArkCase is not a Ferrari and it’s not a Yugo I’d like to think of uh art case as a Lamborghini but at a price of Honda Accord.

So with that it’s a full-fledged case management system with a number of solutions out of the box including FOIA it has business process modeling, it has uh a full reporting and analytics integrated document management, records management, e-discovery, obviously workflow engine, form builder and list goes on and on.

So we spent four years building our FOIA solution based on the requirements that we got from our first customer and we continue to improve that when we continue to make sure that we add areas that impacts our customers processing of those FOIA requests.

So why FOIA you know why ArkCase FOIA a number of reasons that I touched on but there’s one or two that I want to touch on here.

First and foremost this is an open source uh product that we created about seven years ago now and we created an Enterprise version of it as well uh I know open source may be important to some of you out there but the most important thing that we try to continue working on and improving is how do we make this application be an application that’s easily configurable by end users or by power users right.

You no longer should have to depend on the vendor for every single change this is a very critical uh area of our business of our development team and one that we are very much you know on top of and try to continue improving in that space I know we always hear about low code, no code honestly I don’t know if I care much for that term but we are really taking uh this piece to heart and continue to build uh areas where it impacts the you know the ability to do those configurations by end customers.

One of our big customers is EEOC, EEOC utilized a FOIA solution and they basically wanted to modernize their application, they wanted to use a tool that had modern UI, modern backend had abilities to integrate with uh things like foia portal and foia.gov. You know Payment Processing ability to integrate with e-discovery, Etc.

So I invite you to talk to them I’m happy to make that connection with our customer I think you could get a lot of insight from their experience uh by moving from the old platform to the new platform. A number of solutions out of the box uh legal case management, investigative, privacy data management again but I know we’re here to talk about FOIA.

So I’ll zip through this and then my last slide is really who we are uh I know it’s more about you know how we make sure that you take your lunch hour but I represent a company that’s about 20 years old called Armedia.

Armedia has about 135 employees it’s a minority business Enterprise veteran-owned small business we’re across four offices three in U.S and one in Europe. We have ArkCase which is our case management system that was developed after working at FBI for 10 years or so creating their case management system in Partnerships with SAIC and Lidos we decided that we need to invest some of that knowledge and time into building our own product and now we have our case running side by side with some of the partners I mentioned on an AWS govCloud FedRAMP environment and we’re looking forward to expanding that in many of the customers not only in FOIA but others.

So and we talked about the areas that we essentially concentrate on and that is the end of my presentation I wanted to take this opportunity and say again thank you Mike and DGI and everyone who attended. There is a ArkCase QR resource document in the handout section. This has you know a data sheet a five minute demo of our solution so I invite you to get that information and reach out to us if you have any questions, thank you again.

Thank you Ray you stole my thunder I was gonna remind everyone there is a collateral piece in the handout section, thank you again for joining us Ray we appreciate your support.

What we’re going to do now is we’re going to do the quick poll question is if you want to learn more about how to make sure you don’t lose your lunch time frame and or learn more about ArkCase and Armedia you have an opportunity here to schedule appointment with Ray or one of his other team members there at Armedia, you can respond yes or not at this time.