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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 - Because the Archive also sent separate requests to major DOJ components such as the DEA and FBI, the Ten Oldest Request was limited to the Office of Information and Privacy.
Ten Oldest - DOJ responded approximately 22 business days after the request was made; it reported ten FOIA requests ranging from October 17, 1994 to December 28, 1999. These include a requests made the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for specified boxes and folders of records regarding Mexico, specified National Security Council records regarding counterterrorism and narcotics, records from the William J. Burns Collection and the William P. Clark Collection, records pertaining to the hijacking of TWO Flight 847 in 1985, National Security Staff and Office Files concerning Asia, nuclear arms, export administration, and related materials, materials from the records of Attorney General Edward Levi regarding drug strategy and Mexico, records regarding the August 12-14, 1986 visit of the Mexican President and Attorney General to the United States, records concerning the murder of Michael Vernon DeVine on June 8, 1990, in Guatemala, records concerning the Achille Lauro and Opening to China, and records concerning a meeting between Janet Reno and British officials that took place on October 25, 1999.
Workload Statistics - DOJ's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a varying number of number of FOIA requests over the years, from a high of 235,042 in 2000 to a low of 181,388 in 1998 (up .4% from 181,388 in 1998 to 182,079 in 2002). The number processed each year also has varied from a high of 235,090 in 2000 to a low of 184,928 in 2002 (down 5% from 195,105 processed in 1998 to 184,928 processed in 2002). DOJ's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- decreased from 107.56% in 1998 to 101.56% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DOJ's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 25,304 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 32,545 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DOJ's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 12.97% in 1998 to 17.60% 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 14.07% in 1998 to 17.87% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, DOJ reports a median processing time in 2002 for simple requests of 1-67 days, while complex requests have ranged from a median of 13-621 days in 2002. Expedited requests are reported in ranges, with processing times as low as 1 day and as high as 190 days over the 1998-2002 time period. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 2-295 for 2002.



DOJ Response Letter

DOJ October 17, 1994 Letter

DOJ August 18, 1995 Letter

DOJ December 17, 1996 Letter

DOJ April 12, 1997 Letter

DOJ May 18, 1997 Letter

DOJ July 29, 1997 (1) Letter

DOJ July 29, 1997 (2) Letter

DOJ August 16, 1997 Letter

DOJ June 29, 1998 Letter

DOJ December 28, 1999 Letter


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