U.S. Department of Interior Embraces Cloud-Native Legal Technology to Modernize and Future-Proof its Technology Stack

The new year brings with it new opportunities for organizations and employees to take a fresh look at how they operate and conduct business. The federal government is the nation’s single largest employer, and comprised of hundreds of agencies and departments whose activities touch every aspect of our lives. In recent years, federal agencies have been embracing technology to streamline their processes and operations and respond to their mandates more effectively.

One agency in particular epitomizes this trend: The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). 

Since its establishment in 1849, the DOI has evolved from managing the government’s interactions with Native American communities to governing the natural resources in the United States, while adopting a focus on conservation, energy production, and land management. Today, the Department oversees nearly 75% of all federal lands in the country (roughly 420 million acres), approximately 55 million acres of tribal lands, more than 700 million acres of subsurface minerals, and about 2.5 billion acres of the outer continental shelf.

Embracing Technology for Greater Efficiency and Better Insights

As part of its sprawling and crucial mandate, the department has embraced technology to digitize its mission work, streamline collaboration across its eleven bureaus, and better respond to the looming specter of climate change. In its focus on protecting the country’s natural resources and cultural heritage, the Department has adopted cutting edge cloud-native legal technology to modernize its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) workflows and for other initiatives to promote environmental justice across its many state, tribal, and local government partners.

As such, the Department recently implemented Everlaw to future-proof its technology stack by managing and centralizing the 4 million-plus documents that had previously been distributed across its bureaus and offices. The Department will also have access to Everlaw’s new artificial intelligence software feature, Everlaw Clustering, to help its bureaus and offices quickly uncover and produce responsive documentation.

Becoming a Part of the Future Faster

The DOI has a critical role in safeguarding the resources of the United States and administering millions of acres of land. Nearly 47% of all land in the western United States is owned by the federal government (predominantly the DOI), and a majority of land in the states of Nevada, Utah, and Oregon is owned and overseen by the government.

The Department employs more than 60,000 officials spread across the United States, and is led by Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American woman to hold the position. In recent years, Department leadership has infused diversity, equity, and inclusion to its mission.

In the evolution of its mission and mandate, the Department has embraced Everlaw’s cloud-native technology to stay ahead of the curve. In fact, in a 2022 survey of legal professionals, Everlaw and the Association of Ediscovery Specialists (ACEDS) found that 97% of professionals in the public sector understand that the cloud will become the industry standard in the next two years.

Today, the DOI is already there.

As the scope and size of ESI evolve and cloud-based data continue to explode, the DOI will be able to ingest data faster, process documents more efficiently, and then distribute findings and review documents collaboratively. 

Modernizing to Increase Transparency and Execute its Mandate More Effectively

US government functions on transparency and citizen activism, and as such, the DOI responds to nearly 6,000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests every year. The department will have access to a powerful cloud-native tool to efficiently mine relevant documents while increasing accuracy and decreasing processing labor.

The ability to handle such requests effectively and efficiently is critically important to meeting this mission and upholding transparency. Imagine the hypothetical case of a federal agency facing a FOIA request for activities that stretch back decades, if not a century, and touching on the work spread across multiple administrations and bureaus. Fulfilling this request requires an incredible amount of collaboration internally across several divisions to investigate and gather digital evidence. In the case of litigation, multiple additional offices become stakeholders in building and preparing cases. Keeping all of that information and knowledge in one platform, that is secure, and also easy to access from anywhere, is key to meeting mission demands. With the best ediscovery and public records response technology, federal agencies can now collaborate on producing these documents efficiently.

Federal agencies aren’t just looking to satisfy the technical needs of the EDRM,” explains John Carr, Director of Federal Programs at Everlaw. “They are looking for tools that transform their approach and simplify their unique workflows, which include a lot of internal collaboration and functionality that had previously been spread across several tools, to do things like review unique file types, tag, organize, assign, redact and share internally and externally say, with Congress or the public, seamlessly,” he continued, on how federal agencies can use cloud-native ediscovery and investigations platforms for their congressional oversight and FOIA review needs.

Powerful Technology for Federal Agencies

As the DOI faces some of the most pressing challenges in the federal government, from responding to climate change and curbing greenhouse emissions to conserving water, it will have powerful technology to stay ahead of the curve in transparency, efficiency, and accountability. 

Federal agencies considering ediscovery software to respond to FOIA requests and conduct investigations can learn more about Everlaw’s Federal solutions here.