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Fierce Government
April 29, 2015

Even the simplest of FOIA requests a challenge for 10 of 21 agencies, reports open gov group
By Ryan McDermott

A new report from an open government advocacy group shows that agency responses to the same, basic Freedom of Information Act requests varied widely. About 65 business days after FOIA requests were sent to 21 agencies asking them to detail their FOIA processing practices, only seven have furnished complete and usable records in response, says an April 24 blog post from The FOIA Project. Four of the agencies are still working on the request in good faith, the group says. The requests were sent by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which administers the FOIA Project, on the afternoon of Jan. 22. Two of the requests sent to the CIA and IRS went out on the morning of Jan. 23. They were submitted via email, fax or the FOIA Online system, as directed by the agency. The requests to each agency were identical, the blog post says. The FOIA Project asked for copies of the electronic files the FOIA offices themselves use to keep track of FOIA requests. The groups requested that the records be provided in a CSV, Excel or similar format that retains the structure of the data. The fields requested included tracking number, date request was received and the date it was closed. "The requests were deliberately kept as simple as possible," the blog post says. "TRAC purposely did not ask for any information that might be cause for redaction, delay, or difficultly."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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