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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 contacted by the Archive to determine the status of the FOIA request, HHS indicated that it could not locate the request in its system. Accordingly, the request was resubmitted on February 26, 2003. HHS advised the Archive that locating its Ten Oldest FOIA Requests might be difficult because their cataloguing system was incapable of making such searches.
Ten Oldest - HHS responded approximately 150 business days after the request was submitted with ten FOIA requests dated from December 30, 1998 to August 29, 2001. The cover letter noted that several of the requests are for copies of Office of Inspector General "fraud alerts" which are available on the OIG Web site. Thus, HHS explained, they may be answered even though they are still open in the FOIA case log. The requests concern a list of the e-mail addresses that receive the OIG news announcements, correspondence from Congressman Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert between January 1, 1995 and October 1, 1998, copies of Medicare fraud alerts and related materials concerning Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, records regarding the Review of Office of Community Services' Discretionary Grants Awarded to Delta Foundation, Inc. by the Office of Inspector General, correspondence regarding Community Housing Services, Inc., New York State's plans regarding the Adoption and Safe Families Act, compliance reports concerning a Medicaid fraud settlement, lists of persons excluded from participation in Medicaid and Medicare matters, reports from the fraud investigation of the Minneapolis Indian Health Board.
Workload Statistics - HHS's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received an increasing number of FOIA requests, but the number jumped most dramatically in the 2002 fiscal year; prior to 2002, the number of FOIA requests ranged from a low of 58,401 to a high of 65,954 (up 59.30% from 65,954 in 1998 to 105,068 in 2002). The number processed each year also has increased, with a notable jump in the 2002 fiscal year (up 53.13% from 67,367 processed in 1998 to 103,163 processed in 2002). HHS's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received -- increased from 102.14% in 1998 to 98.19% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - HHS's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 18,739 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 19,308 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). HHS's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 8.19% in 1998 to 10.02% 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 decreased from 28.19% in 1998 to 18.38% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its multi-track system, HHS reports median days to process ranging from 10-35 days for simple requests, 60-332 days for complex requests, and 6-342 days for other requests over the 1998-2002 periods. Expedited requests have processing times of 1-135 days with a range of 15.5-27 reported for 2002. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 7-206 for 1998.



HHS Response Letter

HHS December 30, 1998 Letter

HHS May 3, 1999 Letter

HHS June 28, 1999 Letter

HHS August 10, 1999 Letter

HHS August 19, 1999 Letter

HHS April 4, 2001 Letter

HHS May 30, 2001 Letter

HHS July 11, 2001 Letter

HHS August 29, 2001 Letter

HHS May 30, 2001 Letter

HHS September 19, 2001 Letter


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