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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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Ten Oldest - USDA responded to the FOIA request within four business days with seventeen requests from July 19, 2002 through December 2, 2002. Ten of the requests were made on the same day by the same journalist and appear on their face to be quite complex requests. They each relate to a different high level government official, including a range of governors, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and others, several of whom are running for presidential nominations. Each request essentially asks for records of all dealings the agency has had with the individual named in the letter. Other news media requests include ones for any correspondence to or from a limited number of offices within the agency and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Administrative Offices of the US Courts of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and two requests for records from meetings between Anne Veneman and the British Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Request from public interest groups seeks records on agency meetings with the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and state governors, and records regarding changes in livestock grazing in response to the 2002 draught in the Tonto National Forest.
Workload Statistics - Although USDA's reported statistics from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has received a diminishing number of FOIA requests (down 12% from 88,592 in 1998 to 78,293 in 2002), it should be noted that in 2000 the number received skyrocketed to 140, 239. The number processed each year has generally been close to the number received (11.5% change from 88,204 processed in 1998 to 78,062 processed in 2002). For example, 139,503 were processed in 2000. USDA's processing rate per year - a comparison of the number processed to the number received - increased from 99.56% in 1998 to 99.70% in 2002.
Backlog Statistics - USDA's backlog of pending FOIA requests has increased (from 1332 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 2012 FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). USDA's backlog as a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased from 1.51% in 1998 to 2.58% 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 1.5% in 1998 to 2.57% in 2002.
Processing Time - Under its two track system, USDA reports a median processing time in 2002 for simple requests of 2-43 days, while complex requests have ranged from a median of 9-905 days (up to 3 ½ years). Expedited requests have a median processing time range of 7-76 days over the 1998-2002 time period, with a range of 3-76 days reported for 2002. The median days that backlogged requests have been pending is reported as 5-661 (up to 2 ½ years) for 2002. The USDA FY 2002 annual FOIA report indicates that increased timeliness and reduced backlogs for some components is due to increased use of Web site postings.



DOA Response Letter

DOA July 19, 2002 Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (1) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (2) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (3) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (4) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (5) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (6) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (7) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (8) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (9) Letter

DOA August 13, 2002 (10) Letter

DOA September 10, 2002 (1) Letter

DOA September 10, 2002 (2) Letter

DOA September 10, 2002 (3) Letter

DOA October 14, 2002 Letter

DOA November 19, 2002 Letter

DOA December 2, 2002 Letter


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