DOJ FOIA 2003 ANNUAL REPORT - COMPARISONS WITH PREVIOUS YEARS


VIII. COMPARISONS WITH PREVIOUS

YEAR(S).

A. Comparison of numbers of requests

received:

53,904 in FY03 vs. 182,079

in FY02*

B. Comparison of number of requests

processed:

54,583 in FY03 vs 184,928

in FY02*

C. Comparison of median numbers

of days requests were pending as of end of fiscal year:

Varied by component.

D. Other statistics significant

to agency:

290 requests for expedited

processing received; 123 requests for expedited processing granted.

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):

Bueau of Alcohol, Tobacco,

Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)

ATF does not utilize multi-track

processing. The status of pending requests at the end of the fiscal year

shows a median of 41 days processing time for pending requests. ATF's response

time for completed cases ranged from 1 day to 175 days, with a median time

of 10 days.


Drug Enforcement Admininstration

(DEA)

DEA is currently in the process

of implementing an electronic redaction program.


Environment and Natural Resources

Division (ENRD)

ENRD processed roughly thirty

fewer FOIA requests and had about twenty more overdue requests pending at

the end of FY 2003 than in FY 2002. This is primarily because one of its

two paralegals who processed FOIA requests terminated her government service

prematurely at the end of June, rather than at the end of the summer as

anticipated. Because of a Divisionwide hiring freeze, ENRD was unable to

replace her until mid-November. Consequently, for almost half the year,

the Division had only one paralegal assigned primarily to FOIA activities.

It now has two paralegals on board again and thus expects that it will be

able to improve its FOIA performance in FY 2004.

Executive Office for Immigration

Review (EOIR)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

requests are processed by the Office of the General Counsel, FOIA Unit,

in EOIR. In order to process a voluminous amount of records, EOIR hired

two full-time contractors as well as one additional part-time student. The

staff is usually composed of one part-time student and four full-time workers.

The FOIA Unit worked overtime on weekends in addition to discharging many

other duties. The FOIA Unit also used two volunteer staff members within

other sections of the Office of the General Counsel in processing FOIA requests.

The FOIA Unit resources also include the use of several attorneys for guidance

on possible litigation-related issues. These added resources were essential

in attaining the goal of processing the FOIA requests within 25 days as

a statistical median.


Office of Community Oriented

Policing Services (COPS)

COPS has significantly improved

its median response time over the past three years, from 19 days in FY 2001,

to 13 days in FY 2002, and only 8 days in FY 2003. This decrease is attributed

to its ability to respond to FOIA requests by searching the COPS database

and sometimes sending voluminous data to requesters via e-mail. This has

been a very effective and timely way to respond to requesters seeking a

"customized" computer listing of COPS grant awards. COPS's requesters have

been grateful to receive responses in this fashion.


Office of Professional Responsibility

(OPR)

During FY 2003, OPR's delegation

of denial authority was changed due to a retirement. While the individual

who retired had considerable FOIA/PA experience, his replacement does as

well. The new designee previously was the initial reviewer prior to final

review and disclosure. OPR has eliminated one review level, which should

increase response time and reduce OPR's backlog in the coming fiscal year.

OPR's multi-track processing

system has been working well and has been an important feature in maintaining

consistency with its backlog and in effecting a reduction in the overall

median number of days to process FOIA/PA requests. The multi-track processing

system has also been instrumental in OPR's ability to respond to increased

processing demands. OPR experienced a 38.8% increase in FOIA/PA requests

from 90 requests in FY 2002 to 125 in FY 2003, while maintaining a consistent

backlog level and improving the overall processing time. By comparison,

OPR carried over 26 pending FOIA/PA requests from FY 2002 and is carrying

over 27 FOIA/PA requests from FY 2003 in spite of the increased processing

demand. The median number of days to process 90 FOIA/PA requests in FY 2002

was 36 days, while the median number of days to process the 125 FOIA/PA

requests in FY 2003 was only 22 days.

United States Parole Commission

(USPC)

The following efforts were made

to improve timeliness of FOIA performance: hiring several part-time students;

providing additional in-house training; and working with requesters to narrow

the scopes of requests in order to avoid fees.

*

During FY 2003, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service was made part

of the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms became part of the Department of Justice. See FOIA Post,

"Annual Report Guidance for DHS-Related Agencies" (posted 8/8/03). The overall volume

of FOIA/PA requests received and processed by the Department decreased accordingly.

Go to: Table

of Contents // DOJ FOIA Page // Justice

Department Home Page