US Federal building (Source Pixabay/DEZALB under CCO)Everlaw has won a major contract worth up to $10.6 million over five years with the US Department of the Interior (DOI). The DOI plays a central role in how the United States stewards its public lands, increases environmental protections, pursues environmental justice, and honours the nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes.

The DOI will deploy and leverage the Everlaw ediscovery platform to automate processes and workflows for responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, congressional inquiries and other ediscovery use cases. The cloud-native investigation and litigation platform will also support other actions tied to document production requests. In 2021 the DOI received 6302 FOIA requests.

The solution will centralise and subsequently manage over 4 million documents that have historically been spread across the numerous offices it has across its different bureaus. Everlaw provides a platform that will help ingest and analyse millions of documents and their data. The DOI will leverage the Clustering, the new artificial intelligence layer, that the company released in June. Clustering is easy to use, scalable and uses spatial modelling to uncover the documents that are relevant to the search criteria. It will enable the Department to keep on top of information requests. More importantly, the information provided should be more accurate, complete and delivered faster. As a cloud platform, users can access all documents no matter where they were originally sourced. For example, it will mean that documents, once stored within different offices, will become available centrally or wherever the FOIA was received.

The intent will be to reduce the average days the DOI takes to respond to requests. On average, in 2021, it took the agency 99.11 days to respond to simple FOIA requests and 209.35 days to respond to complex requests. However, some departments within the agency take far longer, including the Bureau of Indian Education which took an average of 381.32 days. The DOI expects to reduce these delays in the coming years.

Angela Kovach, senior director public sector solutions and operations at Everlaw
Angela Kovach, senior director public sector solutions and operations at Everlaw

Angela Kovach, senior director public sector solutions and operations at Everlaw, commented, “It’s an honor to work with DOI and support their ongoing mission to protect our natural resources. Impactful work deserves innovative technology, and we’re thrilled to provide our cloud platform to arm the Department with the tools needed to uncover the truth and further advance the mission of the Department.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is an intriguing use of Everlaw and one that does not seem to leverage some of the legal aspects of the platform. It is not the first Everlaw solution that a US Government Department has deployed, but it is an interesting use case. In a year, the DOI and Everlaw will have a very visible metric when the DOI publishes its 2023 DOI report. Everlaw is already used by the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, Americorps and the United States Courts. This application of ediscovery for FOIA requests might interest governments in other countries. It is a challenge that many organisations find onerous.

In 2020, there were over 790,000 FOIA across 118 agencies in the US alone. A target-rich environment for Everlaw, perhaps!


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