Exemption 10

Agencies lag in filing FOIA reports

Posted: Feb. 27, 2013 | Tags: FOIA

In baseball, if you bat .333, you're an All-Star. But we’re pretty sure that doesn’t apply to most other endeavors.

Take, for example, the requirement that federal agencies file annual reports detailing how they handled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The reports, for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, were due by Feb. 1. They're supposed to be available on a central Web page hosted by the Justice Department, which oversees all FOIA procedures for the federal government.

Yet here we are, on Feb. 27, nearly a month after the deadline, and only five cabinet department reports (out of 15) are listed on the site. We suppose it's possible the agencies have the reports on their own sites and the holdup is with Justice. 

What we don’t understand is, first of all, why it would take four months to do this report, considering most agencies now use a variety of programs to track their FOIA work constantly. What we really don’t understand is why agencies seem to take this responsibility so casually. The law has required these reports for 15 years now, and every year the story is the same. Actually, this year is worse than last year, when eight of the departments had filed by Feb. 13.

At least this is one thing the “most transparent administration in history” can’t blame on the sequestration. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

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