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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 - DOS advised that it has a backlog reduction group working on its backlog. In order to complete processing of old requests, the backlog reduction group had spread the requests to other areas of DOS and thus it would not be easy to identify and organize all the requests by age.
Ten Oldest - Not yet received.
Workload Statistics - DOS's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a relatively stable number of FOIA requests (down 7% from 3355 in 1998 to 3134 in 2002). The number processed each year has increased (up 100% from 2317 processed in 1998 to 4636 processed in 2002). DOS's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received - increased from 69.06% in 1998 to 147.93% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DOS's backlog of pending FOIA requests has decreased a bit (from 5349 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 5343 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DOS's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has decreased from 230.86% in 1998 to 115.25% 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 159.43% in 1998 to 170.49% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, DOS reports a median processing time in 2002 for simple requests of 351 days, while it reports a median processing time in 2002 for complex requests of 431 days. Expedited requests have a median processing time range of 85-518 days over the 1998-2002 time period. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 546 for 2002. DOS's FY 2002 annual FOIA report indicates that "[i]n order to improve response times to new and pending requests and reduce the existing FOIA backlog, additional resources were allocated to the Department's [FOIA] program." Specifically, DOS added "nearly fifty additional retired Senior Foreign Service Officers" as part-time reviewers and approved additional full-time permanent positions for a task force of civil service employees and contractors dedicated to a two-year project to address the existing FOIA backlog.



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