home | about | documents | news | postings | FOIA | research | internships | search | donate | mailing list

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



Download the entire report in Adobe PDF format (927 KB)

Note: Many documents on this Website are in Adobe PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

Recordkeeping Issues - NARA's FY 2002 annual FOIA report says that its FOIA responses are delayed as a result of referrals to other agencies and because it must permit review of releases of presidential papers.
Ten Oldest - NARA responded approximately 20 business days after the request was made; it reported ten FOIA requests ranging from March 9, 1990 to August 18, 1993. These requests included one from an Archive analyst seeking classified records regarding Berlin, French-United States military relations, and several specified files, a request for cable files of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-2(Intelligence) 1961-1965 relating to Laos, records of the Physical Security Equipment Agency, specified records of General Wheeler, an Archive request for specified documents from the White House Office of Science and Technology, and Archive request for specified files from the State Department from 1955-1959, a request referred by the Department of Defense for records of the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1960-1970, records regarding Chinese and Korea in the 1950s, specified files of the Officer in Charge of Politico-Military Affairs, Office of European Regional Affairs 1950-57, and other specified files relating to Algerian terrorist activity in France and the French intelligence services.
Workload Statistics - NARA's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received an increasing number of FOIA requests (up 51.16% from 6606 in 1998 to 9986 in 2002). The number of requests processed each year also has increased (up 48.84% from 5930 processed in 1998 to 8826 processed in 2002). NARA's processing rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed to the number received - rose for a few years from 89.77% in 1998 to 101.35% in 2000, but then fell again to 88.38% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - NARA's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 1520 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 2430 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). NARA's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 18.74% in 1998 to 40.68% 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 16.82% in 1998 to 35.95% in 2002.
Processing Time - While its median days to process has ranged from 7-140 days for simple requests and 20-541 days for complex requests over the 1998-2002 period, with improvement in the last year, the median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 887 days for 2002. NARA's FY 2002 annual FOIA report indicates two reasons for its excessive response times. First, NARA must inform current and former presidents of records in presidential libraries that NARA proposes to release and allow at least a 90-day review period prior to any release. Second, when NARA receives a request for classified materials, it must await a release decision from the originating agency; in such cases, NARA contends that its own processing of the request is within the 20-business day statutory timeframe and that the rest of the delay is due to the originating agencies. No processing times are reported for expedited requests.



NARA Response Letter

NARA March 9, 1990 Letter

NARA May 18, 1992 Letter

NARA June 26, 1992 Letter

NARA July 10, 1992 Letter

NARA September 17, 1992 Letter

NARA October 22, 1992 Letter

NARA January 26, 1993 Letter

NARA May 31, 1993 Letter

NARA July 23, 1993 Letter

NARA August 18, 1993 Letter



Contents of this website Copyright 1995-2017 National Security Archive. All rights reserved.
Terms and conditions for use of materials found on this website.