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8 Federal Agencies Have Decade Old FOIA Requests

From: Terry W. Colvin <fortean1.nul>
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2011 12:45:25 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
Archived: Tue, 05 Jul 2011 07:35:48 -0400
Subject: 8 Federal Agencies Have Decade Old FOIA Requests

Detailed history at most recent link with a photo of President


Source: National Security Archive


Jul 4, 2011

Eight Federal Agencies Have FOIA Requests a Decade Old,
According to Knight Open Government Survey

Oldest Pending Request Now 20 Years Old, Still on Referral Among
Multiple Agencies

National Security Archive Marks 45th Birthday of U.S. Freedom of
Information Act, Exposes Backlog Problems, Posts 45 Examples of
FOIA Impact

For more information contact:

Tom Blanton/Nate Jones


Washington, D.C., July 4, 2011 - Forty-five years after
President Johnson signed the U.S. Freedom of Information Act
into law in 1966, federal agency backlogs of FOIA requests are
growing, with the oldest requests at eight agencies dating back
over a decade and the single oldest request now 20 years old,
according to the Knight Open Government Survey by the National
Security Archive at George Washington University:


The Knight Survey of the oldest requests utilized the FOIA to
examine the actual copies of the oldest requests from the 35
federal agencies and components that process more than 90
percent of all FOIAs. It shows that the oldest requests in the
U.S. government were submitted before the fall of the Soviet
Union. These unfulfilled requests - some are for documents that
are themselves more than 50 years old - are victims of an
endless referral process in which any agency that claims
"equity" can censor their release.

The Freedom of Information Act requires agencies to process and
respond to a request within 20 business days, with the
possibility of a ten-day extension under "unusual
circumstances". In his March 19, 2009 government-wide memo on
FOIA, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that "long delays
should not be viewed as an inevitable and insurmountable
consequence of high demand". Despite this, the Knight Survey
shows that some FOIAs remain marooned for decades.

The two previous Knight Open government surveys conducted during
the Obama administration have also shown that, despite a clear
message from the President, government agencies have been slow
to improve their Freedom of Information processes. The 2010
Knight Survey, "Sunshine and Shadows", showed that only 13 of 90
agencies implemented concrete changes in response to President
Obama and Attorney General Holder's early memoranda calling for
FOIA reforms. The March 2011 Knight Survey, "Glass Half Full",
showed improvement but still revealed that just 49 of 90
agencies had followed specific tasks mandated by the White House
to improve their FOIA performance. As Eric Newton, senior
adviser to the president at the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation, put it, "At this rate, the president's first term in
office will be over by the time federal agencies do what he
asked them to do on his first day in office".

Terry W. Colvin
15 Apr-10 Jul 2011
Fort Walton Beach area, Florida
[Terry's Fortean & "Work" itty-bitty site]

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