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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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Ten Oldest - DIA responded within five business days to the FOIA request with requests dating from July 8, 1991 through August 1, 1996. Eight of the ten requests were from Archive analysts. The requests concerned biographical sketches of identified Guatemalan military officials, identified reports from the mid-1980s that are listed as unclassified in the Air University Library, records from 1983-1985 relating to Iraq and Kurdistan, intelligence reports concerning Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in September 1995, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, biographical materials on a specified Chinese military officer, identified histories, and Iraqi manuals concerning chemical, biological and/or nuclear warfare. The oldest of these requests was submitted in 1991 to the CIA and appears to have been referred to the DIA in 1996; thus, several years of the delay can be accorded to the CIA.
Workload Statistics - Although DIA's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a decreasing number of FOIA requests (down 29.5% from 1313 in 1998 to 926 in 2002), the number processed each year also has decreased somewhat (down 5% from 861 processed in 1998 to 819 processed in 2002). DIA's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- increased from 65.58% in 1998 to 88.44% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DIA's backlog of pending FOIA requests has gone up and down over the years and is slightly down (from 1781 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 1756 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DIA's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 206.85% in 1998 to 214.41% 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 135.64% in 1998 to 189.63% in 2002. Thus, DIA's backlog includes almost twice as many requests as it receives in a year.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, DIA reports a median processing time for 2002 of 35, while complex requests in 2002 had a median of 540 days. Processing times for both simple and complex requests have increased over the 1998-2002 period. Expedited requests have a median processing time range of 5-60 days over the 1998-2002 time period. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 890 (3-4 years) for 2002. As noted above, the Ten Oldest FOIA Requests have been pending approximately 3060 to 1300 business days.



DIA Response Letter

DIA July 8, 1991 Letter

DIA December 16, 1994 Letter

DIA September 29, 1995 Letter

DIA October 21, 1995 Letter

DIA December 10, 1995 Letter

DIA March 11, 1996 Letter

DIA March 15, 1996 Letter

DIA March 30, 1996 Letter

DIA May 12, 1996 Letter

DIA August 1, 1996 Letter


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