Open Government

Watchdog group grades agencies' FOIA performance

The Center for Effective Government on March 13 released a report on the government's Freedom of Information Act response efforts, finding that agencies processed more FOIA in 2012 than in previous years, and that backlogs have declined even as the number of requests has grown. But more requests are being redacted, the report found, and the cost of FOIA processing varied widely from agency to agency.

The data "suggests there may some economies of scale in processing FOIA requests," the report states, but volume alone does not explain the variations -- the State Department spent more than four times as much to process each request as did the National Archives and Records Administration, which responded to roughly the same number of inquiries.

The full report, which includes additional processing details, historical trends and other analysis, is available on the Center for Effective Government website.

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Reader comments

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 Walter

The CIA I can understand, every document probably has to be reviewed by a dozen people before it is approved for release. The Archives seems strange, but I guess it depends on what they are asking for and how far back in what vault those documents are stored. The Archives stores a really large amount of hard copy documents. Energy, NASA, and Commerse I would think might be getting more technical requests that are harder to compile. In the end, it is hard to tell what is going on unless you know how many requests are going to each group and what their review process is and what information is being asked for. It may be people are asking for boxes of documents or just proprietary information that belongs to their contractors.

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