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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 - When the Archive contacted DOT in April 2003, it was told that the agency still had not begun processing any 2003 FOIA requests because of its backlog from 2002. The Archive was also informed that the agency has decentralized FOIA processing and coordination with the many components would be time-consuming. The Archive limited the search for the initial request to the Office of the Secretary, but has not received anything. The Archive later filed requests with the five DOT components that receive the greatest number of FOIA requests (Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard, Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Office of the Secretary of Transportation). It has received acknowledgments from several of those agencies, but has received a response only from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Ten Oldest - Nothing yet received in response to initial FOIA request. Response from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration included nine requests dating from June 11, 2001.
Workload Statistics - Although DOT's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a decreasing number of FOIA requests (down 13% from 20,476 in 1998 to 17,910 in 2002), the number processed each year rose for several years, but ultimately has remained somewhat steady (up .8% from 17,406 processed in 1998 to 17,540 processed in 2002). DOT's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- increased from 85.01% in 1998 to 97.93% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - DOT's backlog of pending FOIA requests has decreased (from 4362 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 3885 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). DOT's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has decreased from 25.06% in 1998 to 22.15% 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 13.35% in 1998 to 21.69% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, DOT reports a median processing time for simple requests well within the statutory timeframes (8 days in 2002) and a median of 39 days in 2002 for complex requests. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 41 for 2002.



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