Solutions: Allow or require filing data as spreadsheets, and eventually
implement an e-filing system that captures structured data at the point of disclosure, like e-filing through forms. 4)
The bulk data output function in document search is broken
. It currently exports a CSV file that appears to utilize hyperlinking, but through a process that is evidently not supported by the CSV file format, rendering the downloadable data spreadsheet useless to the public.
Solution: Include the hyperlink in the spreadsheet itself, or output the data in a form that supports hyperlinks.
5) Filers are submitting
handwritten forms to the Department of Justice despite having access to a word processor
. Handwritten forms are extremely difficult to synthesize automatically, and they drain the resources of both the Department of Justice and the public. Solution: Encourage or require filers to file online whenever possible. This will save the
Department of Justice and the public’s resources.
The e-filing system lacks adequate standards
. For instance, certain filings include foreign currencies, while others report only the last names of people with whom agents have met. Solution: Require standardization of data, for instance the currency in which spending is reported and the use of full names of people included in the filing. This will greatly improve the quality of the data retrieved from filings, and pose a negligible burden from the filer.
Not all of the informational materials electronically filed are electronically available
. Solution: The FARA Registration Unit should provide electronic access to all informational materials. The Registration Unit accepts informational materials electronically, so posting these submissions to the FARA website would require minimal effort and would dramatically increase transparency.
Examples, with cited filings attached:
To view the problem, go to
, search for documents, and then click “Click here for DOWNLOADABLE DATA spreadsheet.”
One example is Exhibit D of the following filing, which uses German currencies: http://www.fara.gov/docs/616-Supplemental-Statement-20131220-12.pdf
. Appended here and labeled “Att. 2.”