Results Show Constituent Services and FOAA Improvements Strengthen DHHS Transparency

March 14, 2024

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is committed to keeping the public informed about its provision of health and social services to approximately a third of Maine residents. The volume of information requests made directly to the Department is significant and has continued to grow in recent years. And our public communication about our responses continues, including through this update.

As a result of changes the Department implemented following a 2022 comprehensive review of Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) processing, the Department’s responsiveness markedly improved in 2023. Despite a near doubling of FOAA requests -- to 459 in 2023 from 252 in 2022-- the Department fulfilled 64 percent of FOAA requests in 30 days or fewer, as is illustrated in the graphic below.

Chart comparing FOAA request response times in 2022 and 2023

The Department additionally shortened responsiveness time to FOAA requests in 2023 even though doing so required more staff hours to fulfill due to the complexity and nature of the information requested. The Department spent a total of 782.8 hours working on FOAA requests in 2023, compared to 653.5 hours in 2022.

The Department’s improved responsiveness is also evidenced through its Constituent Services work. In 2023, the Department’s Public Access Officer with assistance from across the Department responded to 4,046 total inquiries, an increase of nearly 22 percent compared to 2022.

Chart showing inquiries by office in 2023

Responding to FOAAs and constituent requests is one of many ways that the Department strives to keep Maine people abreast of our work. This includes redesigning the DHHS website and the websites of the agencies and offices that fall under this Department, regularly updating the DHHS blog, and regularly engaging with the press, constituents, partners, the Legislature, and the public.

To submit a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request, complete the DHHS Freedom of Access Act Request Form available here. To learn more about FOAA, visit The Maine Freedom of Access Act Page.

To submit a constituent inquiry, visit the Department’s website and click on “Constituent Services Inquiry Form” or complete the form here.