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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 - DOD provided its response both electronically, as an attachment to an e-mail, and with a hard copy of the records by U.S. mail.
Ten Oldest - DOD responded approximately 26 business days after the request was made; it reported ten FOIA requests ranging from January 31, 1987 to February 3, 1992. The requests concern the activities of National Security Council personnel relating to Vietnam, Laos, China or the USSR in the 1980s, a news media request for Presidential Review Memoranda, several research requests from a graduate student for records regarding the Freedom of Navigation program, a request regarding anti-drug U.S. aid packages granted to Mexico since mid-1990, and records regarding the DOD's reaction to Iraq's efforts to purchase high temperature furnaces in 1990. Among the oldest requests provided by DOD, were ones that had been referred by the National Security Council (NSC) to DOD several years after being initially received by the NSC. From the perspective of the FOIA requester, these requests have been pending for as long as 15 years, although a portion of the delay is not the responsibility of DOD. The request for Presidential Review Memoranda is one of the requests referred by the NSC to DOD. Although DOD views this as an open request and it potentially represents a tasking to DOD personnel, the requester already has obtained these records from a request to the Carter Presidential Library.
Workload Statistics - Although DOD's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a decreasing number of FOIA requests (down 29% from 107,627 in 1998 to 76,579 in 2002), the number processed each year also has decreased (down 27.6% from 106,191 processed in 1998 to 76,943 processed in 2002). DOD's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- increased from 98.67% in 1998 to 100.48% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DOD's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 10,240 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 12,543 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DOD's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 9.64% in 1998 to 16.30% 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 9.51% in 1998 to 16.38% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, DOD reports a median processing time in 2002 for simple requests of 20, while complex requests are reported to have a median processing time of 58 days in 2002. Expedited requests have a median processing time range of 1-7 days over the 1998-2002 time period. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 87 for 2002.



DOD Response Letter

DOD January 31, 1987 Letter

DOD March 3, 1988 Letter

DOD 1989 Letter

DOD March 13, 1989 (1) Letter

DOD March 13, 1989 (2) Letter

DOD March 23, 1989 Letter

DOD January 16, 1992 Letter

DOD February 3, 1992 Letter


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