Each year, federal departments and agencies are required by law to submit a report to the Attorney General detailing various statistics regarding their agency’s FOIA activities, such as the numbers of requests processed and received, and the time taken to process them. These Annual FOIA Reports, ninety-nine in total for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, are compiled by OIP and posted on the Reports page of our site. The data from the agency Annual FOIA Reports is also uploaded onto FOIA.gov, the Justice Department’s government-wide FOIA resource. In order to provide agency personnel and the public a comprehensive picture of the government’s FOIA activities during the fiscal year, OIP routinely creates a summary of the information contained within agency Annual FOIA Reports. Today, we posted our summary of these reports for FY 2012 (PDF). As in previous years, the summary looks at government-wide data for many key statistics in FOIA administration and highlights significant numbers reported by individual agencies. Additionally, the summary identifies trends in FOIA processing by comparing the FY 2012 Annual FOIA Report data with data from prior fiscal years. As described in this year's summary, during FY 2012 the government overall:
- Received and processed more FOIA requests: 651,254 total requests received and 665,924 total requests processed, a 1.1% and 5.5% increase (respectively) over the total numbers reported at the end of FY 2011;
- Reduced the government-wide FOIA request backlog: The government's overall FOIA request backlog was reduced by 14% from 83,490 requests at the end of FY 2011 to 71,790 at the close of FY 2012. This also represents a nearly 45% reduction from the 130,419 requests reported as backlogged at the end of FY 2008;
- Maintained a high release rate of above 92% for the fourth straight year: Of the 464,985 requests processed by agencies for a disclosure determination in FY 2012, a full or partial release of information was made in response to 93.4% of these requests, with 50.3% constituting a full release of records. This marks the fourth year that the number of responses to FOIA requests providing a release of information either in full or in part exceeded 92% of the requests processed for a disclosure determination (FY 2009 – 94%; FY 2010 – 92.6%; FY 2011 – 93.1%; FY 2012 – 93.4%); and
- Improved average processing times: The government overall improved the average processing times for simple (22.66 days), complex (82.35 days), and expedited track requests (40.2 days) when compared to the processing times reported at the end of FY 2011 (23.65 days, 103.74 days, 55.22 days, respectively).