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Federal agencies fail FOIA test conducted by Syracuse University


If you report on the government, it may not surprise you to read that only seven of the 21 federal agencies recently FOIAed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) have provided records more than two months after the requests went out.

TRAC, a research center that administers the FOIA Project out of Syracuse University, has been trying to gather information on FOIA backlogs and processing times. In late January TRAC sent identical records requests to a group of federal agencies – including the CIA, FBI, Bureau of Prisons, several divisions of the Department of Justice and many others.

To avoid running into issues like redaction, TRAC tried to keep the requests as simple as possible: Copies of the electronic files the FOIA offices use to keep track of FOIA requests, include tracking number, date request was received, and the date it was closed. (TRAC posted the full-length letter on its website, and we embedded a copy on the right.)

As of April 24, seven agencies have provided the records:

  • Army
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • DHS HQ
  • DOJ Civil Rights Division
  • DOJ Management Division
  • Fish & Wildlife

Four others are making what TRAC considers a "good-faith effort" to comply, but have yet to provide the records. So far, the CIA is the only agency to deny the center’s request.

Learn more about the FOIA Project and see how all 21 agencies responded – or failed to respond to – TRAC’s FOIA request.

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