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Agency FOIA Workloads & Backlogs
Fiscal Year 2002



Pending End FY01



Pending End FY02

Backlog as a percentage of yearly processing

Median number of days that requests pending at end of year have been awaiting response

CIA 1,866 2,727 3,046 1,547 50.79% FOIA Requests: 601
Privacy Act Requests: 151
CPSC 151 9,651 9,636 166 1.72 % 35
DOC 219 2,142 2,063 298 14.44% 55
DOD 12,907 76,579 76,943 12,543 16.30% 87
DOT 3,515 17,910 17540 3,885 22.15 % 41
DOI 879 4,396 4,378 902 20.60% various, 1-1,407
Education 193 1,744 1,718 219 12.75% various, 0-65
EEOC 1,116 17,320 16735 1,701 10.16 % 13
Energy 1446 2900 3319 1027 30.9% 97
EPA 10,383 13,443 19,259 4,567 23.71% various, 11-438
FTC 76 1,016 1,060 32 3.02 % 17
FRB 57 1,425 1,422 60 4.22% 5.5
GSA 93 1455 1407 141 10.02 % 29
HHS 17,403 105,068 103,163 19,308 18.72 % various, 7-842
Justice 35,394 182,079 184,928 32,545 17.60% various, 2-828
HUD 1,632 3,210 4,171 671 16.09 % various, 7-68
Labor 1,288 17,722 18,201 809 4.44 % various, 8-36
NARA 2,430 9,986 8,826 3,590 40.68% 887
NASA 147 1,713 1,723 137 7.95% 44
NLRB 190 5,566 5,550 206 3.71% 7.5
OPM 272 9,032 8,784 520 5.92% 17
Peace Corp. 11 7287 6908 390 5.65 % 150
SBA 132 2050 2117 65 3.07 % various
SEC 136 3,573 2,888 821 28.43% Simple Requests: 16
Complex Requests: 137
SSA 26,788 268,488 292,884 2,392 0.82 % 7-48
State 6845 3134 4636 5343 115.25 % 514
Treasury 8,611 46,879 47,812 7,681 16.07% various, 1-545
USDA 1,781 78,293 78,062 2,012 2.58% various, 5-661
USPS 239 1164 1119 291 26.01 % 153
(only reported for Postal HQ Records Office)
VA 36,438 1,497,355 1,490,843 42,957 2.86 % various, 3-42
TOTALS 172,160 2,392,979 2,418,903 146,244  

Source: Agencies' Annual Reports on FOIA Activities for FY2002

See also FOIA statistics from other years



  1. various - These agencies did not report a single median for pending requests, but different medians for requests pending at agency components.

  2. Medians reported are working days, except for the Departments of Education and State, and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB)
  3. Median reported by NARA does not reflect the handling of FOIA requests for presidential records. NARA excluded these requests from its calculations because of the additional time required by the Presidential Records Act and Executive Order 13233
  4. Department of State statistics for the medians are based on the dates that acknowledgement letters were sent to requesters, and in some cases the dates that requests were received, not on the dates when the requests were perfected or when expeditious processing was granted. In addition, Department of State does not include in its statistics requests in which there have been incremental releases, but which have not been processed to completion.
  5. For Social Security Administration, 84% of requests processed (245,877 of 292,884) are described as simple requests handled by non-FOIA staff in field offices. These requests are ordinarily handled the same day and are described as requests for information from manual, copies of the Social Security Act, requests about themselves from SSA computer systems, etc. 87% (2,076) of the 2,392 requests pending at the end of the year are in the same category
  6. Department of the Interior's sum of pending and received requests, minus requests processed, is 5 less than the number reported pending at the end of FY02. The Department of the Interior's report suggests that this discrepency is attributable to transition to a new, centralized electronic FOIA tracking system. The Department of the Treasury's report has a similar discrepancy of 3 requests.

Notes on Reasons for Backlog Reduction

  1. HUD report includes within number processed 1082 requests in which responses had been provided in previous years but the requests still were reported as pending in reports prior to FY02. These requests were "administratively closed" in FY02.
  2. Improvement in Department of Justice backlog attributable to decrease in backlog at INS from 28,372 to 25,515 requests.
  3. EPA annual report shows agency processed 5,816 more requests than it received in 2002, primarily due to processing exceeding requests received at Headquarters and Region 2. EPA FOIA Task Force Report includes a list of 18 recommendations to address problems in FOIA processing, and EPA reports show correction of erroneous information attributed to errors in EPA database
  4. SSA reports decrease in backlog of pending requests was:
    [D]ue mostly to the decrease of requests from genealogists for copies of Social Security Number (SSN) applications for deceased individuals. The requests were halved over FY 2001 (from about 90,000 to 45,000) because, after over 10 years, SSA adjusted the fees for providing this service to recover its costs as required by the FOI and the Social Security Acts. The fees were raised from $7.00/$16.50 to $27/$29 per SSN request, depending whether or not the requester provided the SSN. Consequently, fewer people made such requests and SSA personnel handling these cases could turn their attention to reducing the pending workload.
    SSA FY2002 Report, Part VIII
  5. Department of State attributes backlog reduction to additional funds that the agency was granted "to establish a backlog reduction project team and to put a permanent workforce in place for special projects. This made additional full-time-employee staff available to devote to the FOIA program."

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