Putting TRAC to Work
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Jason Chaffetz (UT-3), Chairman
January 2016

FOIA Is Broken: A Report
By Staff Report

Syracuse University conducted a study of agency responses to FOIA requests. Syracuse filed identical requests at 21 agencies for “a case-by-case listing of all FOIA requests received by the FOIA office from October 1, 2012 – December 31, 2014” with certain specific data fields. This should be a simple request because all of the records are in the FOIA office and the database should be frequently accessed. After four months, only seven agencies provided records. While four of the remaining 14 agencies appeared to be making an effort to respond, ten agencies showed delinquent efforts to comply with the law. Three agencies failed to respond at all. Three acknowledged the request but failed to provide any additional information or additional correspondence. Three agencies “provided records that were clearly unresponsive.” The last agency, the CIA, denied the request because it required an “unreasonable effort.” Syracuse highlighted responses from two agencies. First, “[The Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)] response has been typical of our dealings with them. At first the agency sent a broken CD. Then they sent a new CD with 36 only one month out of the 27 months of data. Then they became unresponsive, forcing us to appeal.”Similarly, the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, the federal agency that provides guidance to other agencies on FOIA processes, acknowledged receipt after 20 working days and failed to follow up with any additional information after the initial acknowledgement.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2016
TRAC TRAC at Work TRAC TRAC at Work News Organizations News Organizations