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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

The Ten Oldest Pending FOIA Requests

The National Security Archive
Freedom of Information Act Audit

Press Release
Executive Summary
The Ten Oldest FOIA Requests in the Federal Government
Chart - Agency Response Times
Table - Oldest Outstanding FOIA Requests
Findings Regarding The Ten Oldest FOIA Requests and FOIA Backlogs
Summary Discussion of Individual Agencies
Update on Phase One: The Ashcroft Memorandum
FOIA Audit Phase One: The Ashcroft Memo



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Recordkeeping Issues - In response to inquiry from the National Security Archive, the DEA informed the Archive that it had not received the January 31, 2003 FOIA request for the Ten Oldest FOIA Requests. Although the Archive verified that it had sent the request to the correct fax number and that the transmission record showed that it had been successfully transmitted, the DEA could not offer an explanation for the problem. The request was resent on February 26, 2003.
Ten Oldest - DEA responded approximately 55 business days after the initial request and 38 business days after the request was resent. The response included a list of pending FOIA requests that all appear to have been filed in 2002. The Archive requested copies of the actual requests on May 2, 2003, but was told that it would take time to open each file and find the original requests. They still have not been received. The Ten Oldest FOIA Requests relate to DEA Contracts, policy and procedures manuals and training materials, Internet and Online Investigations Projects, the number of methamphetamine and GBH laboratories seized nationwide, Latin American Affairs, Drug Trafficking in Burma, Thailand and/or Laos, hemp beers and ales, meetings with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the State Departments IND Bureau, and proposed legalization of marijuana in Nevada since January 1, 2002.
Workload Statistics - DEA's FOIA reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the number of FOIA requests has gone up and down over the years, from a high of 2,452 in 1999 to a low of 1,765 in 2002. The number processed each year also has gone up and down, sticking close to the number filed each year (from a high of 2,377 processed in 2000 to a low of 1,839 processed in 2002). DEA's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received - increased from 98.09% in 1998 to 104.19% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DEA's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 146 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 212 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). Its backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 7.12% in 1998 to 11.53% in 2002. Its backlog rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests pending at the end of the year to the number received during that year -- has increased from 6.98% in 1998 to 12.01% in 2002.
Processing Time - DEA reported median processing times from 11-16 days over the 1998-2002 period. Those still pending at the end of 2002 are reported as having a median response time of 15 days. This is in contrast to the 55 days that it took to respond to the request for the Ten Oldest FOIA Requests. No processing times are reported for expedited requests.



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