VIII. COMPARISONS WITH PREVIOUS
A. Comparison of numbers of requests
235,042 in FY00 vs. 230,492
in FY99, a 2% increase
B. Comparison of number of requests
235,090 in FY00 vs. 223,644
in FY99, a 5% increase
C. Comparison of median numbers
of days requests were pending as of end of fiscal year:
Varies by component.
D. Other statistics significant
BOP (processed over 78,000
requests for records from inmates through informal on-site access procedures
whereby inmates can obtain copies of documents pertaining to themselves);
INS (granted 3567 more requests in FY00, a 5.3% increase in full grants).
E. Other narrative statements describing
component efforts to improve timeliness of FOIA performance and to make records
available to the public (e.g., backlog-reduction efforts; specification of
average number of hours per processed request; training activities; public
availability of new categories of records):
For the Department of Justice
The Department has improved customer
service, reduced backlogs within most component offices, and promoted greater
use of automation. Although the Department continues to devote its resources
to FOIA administration and backlog-reduction initiatives, there was a modest
increase in the Department's overall backlog in FY00, but not in the number
of requests (which decreased). Most individual components of the Department
have eliminated or reduced existing backlogs. To facilitate greater access
to electronic records, the Department continues to post records on its FOIA
Web sites, and productivity overall has improved through use of automation
For individual components:
The Bureau of Prisons implemented
the capability to allow individuals to make FOIA requests via the Internet
this year. This has allowed a more timely response to individuals making
simple FOIA requests, by eliminating the mailing time in receiving the request
and, in many instances, allowing for an electronic response. BOP implemented
a new database, which will allow it to track requests more efficiently.
Civil Rights Division
The Civil Rights Division has
experienced a reduction in its backlog and a reduction in the number of
incoming FOIA requests. The Division has posted extensive information on
its Web site, particularly records regarding Division activity in the area
of disability rights. The Division has been able to reduce the number of
contractors it hires to process FOIA requests. The backlog has continued
to decline, as well as the median processing time in most tracks. Categories
that have not improved in turn-around time have remained steady. Also, in
FY00, the FOIA/PA Branch focused its resources on closing all requests involving
voluminous amounts of records. This effort succeeded in closing the largest
matters. The FOIA/PA Branch has conducted training sessions with program
sections to improve responsiveness.
DEA is currently in the process
of implementing an electronic redaction program.
In the last 2 years, INS has
allocated funding for overtime. Also, INS has continued to "remote" cases
to FOIA/PA field offices that have no backlogs. In March, INS opened a FOIA/PA
office at its National Records Center in Lee's Summit, Missouri. This office
has been helpful in assisting other field offices with scanning and processing
of FOIA requests.
Despite INS's efforts, its backlog
has continued to increase. INS has been meeting with the staff of the Executive
Associate Commissioner, Field Operations in order to develop a 5-year strategic
plan for centralizing the program in an effort to reduce the backlog. Eliminating
the backlog is a high priority for INS.
OPR continues to emphasize 2
main areas to reduce its backlog. First, FOIA personnel focus on the processing
of large, complex requests to remove those requests from the FOIA/PA backlog.
Second, there is a continued emphasis placed on the processing of requests
that require minimal work. These requests include full releases, no records,
referrals, and Glomar responses. By placing an emphasis on these requests
concurrently with complex requests, OPR attempts to prevent these requests
from becoming part of the FOIA/PA backlog.
OPR's FOIA/PA backlog was fairly
constant through much of FY00. The backlog rose slightly during the last
couple of months of the fiscal year due to resources being diverted for
litigation purposes, competing priorities, an increase in the number of
new requests, and the physical move of OPR to new office space. During FY00,
OPR also experienced the departures of its FOIA Officer and a FOIA paralegal.
Even with these distractions, OPR has managed to keep the median number
of days to process requests under 20 business days and has decreased the
median number of days for requests that remain pending from 45 to 34 days.
The Tax Division's FOIA Unit's
FY00 efforts resulted in a zero-backlog performance against a 50% increase
in the number of requests from FY99. This performance was made possible
by using a semi-automated FOIA case processing system; adopting record-retention
practices to better serve frequent requesters; assessing incoming requests
more closely; drafting tailored responses for especially complex requests;
and, most importantly, giving FOIA personnel the freedom to create and experiment
with new processing techniques that improve response time, while also enhancing
the quality of responses for all customers.
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