FOIA Audit Finds Systematic Failures, Massive Delays, and No Penalties

july 2, 2007  10:43 am
The oldest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests still pending in the federal government were first filed two decades ago, according to the Knight Open Government Survey (pdf file) released today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The Department of State reported ten pending requests older than 15 years; other agencies with the oldest requests include the Air Force and two components of the Justice Department, the Criminal Division and the FBI. The survey also found that ten agencies have misrepresented their FOIA backlogs to Congress. One example: the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy -- which is leading the opposition to FOIA reform legislation -- told Congress that its oldest request was from 2003, when unresolved requests actually date back to 2001.