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FBI Revamps Online Records Archive

Frequently requested documents and improved search and viewing features have been added to the electronic reading room, which is now called The Vault.

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The FBI has continued its update of key online services with a revamp of its online records archive, bolstering features that allow people to search through and view documents, it said.

The agency has added more than 25 new files to its online electronic reading room, which it also has renamed "The Vault." The files have been publicly available but are now joining more than 2,000 paper documents and other files the FBI has scanned into the online digital repository.

The new site also includes dozens of records the agency previously had made available online but then removed from the archive due to lack of public interest, as well as other files carried over from a previous version of its electronic reading room, it said.

Another update to The Vault is the release of documents frequently requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in an open-source, Web-based document viewer called FlexPaper. Previously, these files were only provided by request, and people had to use their own file viewers to see them, according to the FBI.

The move is part of a series of upgrades the FBI has given its online resources in the last year to support the Obama administration's government transparency goals. Last April, it overhauled the FBI Records/Freedom of Information and Privacy Act website, adding a feature that allows people to submit requests online.

The agency also in October gave its main website its most comprehensive overhaul in 15 years.

In addition to adding documents and files to The Vault, the FBI also updated features for searching and viewing files, it said. People now can search or browse for specific topics via an alphabetical listing or by using a search tool that's been added to the upper right side of the site's homepage, according to the FBI. People also have the option to search through category lists that lead to folders that show the files for particular topics.

The new archive also includes keyword search based on technology an FBI programmer custom built for the site, said Mike Lilly, the agency's unit chief for online/print media. People can now search based on keywords across all electronic files in The Vault or specifically within one document.

Finally, the upgrade also includes a feature to give people a status update of their FOIA document request online.

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