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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 - The request to DOI was limited to the Office of the Secretary after consulting with DOI regarding the decentralization of the agency. In the cover letter accompanying the release, DOI provided the following caveats: (1) DOI could not confirm that the requesters were still interested in the records requests; (2) other components within DOI may have already responded in whole or in part to some or all of the requests; and (3) the program offices within the Office of Secretary also already may have responded to the requests. The FOIA office also explained that data in its current configuration had not been reconciled since conversion of their computer tracking system in 2002.
Ten Oldest - DOI responded approximately 23 business days after the request was made; it reported ten FOIA requests ranging from March 25, 1997 to November 5, 1999. The requests included one from an environmental organization concerning records from January 1995 to May 1997 relating to the 1997 Interim Trinity River Flows, a public interest legal organization's request for records concerning the Clinton American Heritage Rivers program, records concerning funding provided to the USDOL-OSHA Region IX for the periods 1990-1997, a request from the Arizona Division of Housing for information about property owned by an applicant for Section 8 Housing that was leased to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an environmental group's request for records concerning the request of the Hopi Tribe to take eagles and hawks at Wupatki, a request for records concerning the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corporation Site in Cambridge, Ohio, a Congressional Research Service Request for records concerning funds being held to compensate the Paiute Shoshone Indians for past wrongs against them, a request for materials concerning the Bravo thermonuclear test of Operation Castle performed in the Marshall Islands in 1954, a media request for lists of films and videos of the department, and a request for records concerning garment manufacturers or Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Workload Statistics - Although DOI's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a decreasing number of FOIA requests (down 16% from 5221 in 1998 to 4396 in 2002), the number processed each year also has decreased (down 12% from 5002 processed in 1998 to 4378 processed in 2002). DOI's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- increased from 95.81% in 1998 to 99.59% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DOI's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 545 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 902 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DOI's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 10.90% in 1998 to 20.60% 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 9.83% in 1998 to 20.52% in 2002.
Processing Time - DOI reports processing times ranging from 10-58 days for 2002. Expedited requests have a median processing time range of 5-12 days over the 1998-2000 time period, with a range of 9-33 days reported for 2002. For its backlogged requests, however, it reports processing times in 2002 ranging from 5-1407 days (up to 5 ½ years). DOI's FY 2002 annual FOIA report indicates that DOI is implementing a new electronic FOIA tracking system. It reports that this will improve "the overall efficiency of the FOIA processing in DOI."



DOI Response Letter

DOI March 25, 1997 Letter

DOI April 14, 1997 Letter

DOI June 14, 1997 Letter

DOI September 22, 1999 Letter

DOI September 23, 1999 Letter (link unavailable)

DOI September 24, 1999 Letter

DOI September 30, 1999 Letter

DOI October 19, 1999 Letter

DOI October 22, 1999 Letter

DOI November 5, 1999 Letter


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