Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Report

National Archives And Records Administration (NARA)
Fiscal Year 2002

I. Basic Information Regarding Report

  1. Questions about this report can be addressed to:
  2. National Archives FOIA Officer
    Office of General Counsel
    Room 3110, 8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001

    The telephone number is 301-837-2024.
  3. An electronic version of the report is available at: http://www.archives.gov/foia/reports/2002.html

  4. To request a copy of the report in paper form write:
  5. National Archives FOIA Officer
    Office of General Counsel
    Room 3110, 8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001

II. How to Make a FOIA Request

  1. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all individual agency components and offices that receive FOIA request.
  2. The National Archives receives FOIA requests for the executive branch records in its legal custody, both the operational records it creates as an agency of the executive branch and the archival records it maintains as the archives of the U.S. government. The National Archives also receives FOIA requests for presidential records created under the terms of the Presidential Records Act. The FOIA applies to presidential and vice-presidential records beginning with the administration of Ronald Reagan. Judicial and legislative records among the National Archives’ holdings are not subject to the provisions of the FOIA. For a full description of the types of records the National Archives maintains and where to send FOIA requests for those records, please review the National Archives and Records Administration Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Reference Guide.
    In addition, the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) receives Privacy Act and FOIA requests for personnel and medical records of former military and civilian employees of the Federal government. The NPRC provides access to these records in accordance with the access and release policies of the agency that has legal custody of the records. Military records remain in the legal custody of Department of Defense (Air Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps) or the Department of Transportation (U.S. Coast Guard). Access to most civilian employee records is covered by U.S. Office of Personnel Management regulations. See information concerning access to military or civilian personnel records.
  3. Brief description of the agency's response-time ranges.
  4. Several different issues play into the National Archives’ response time on FOIA requests.
    1. When FOIA requests are submitted to those Presidential Libraries subject to both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and the FOIA, the National Archives must inform both the current and the former Presidents which records we propose to open and then allow the Presidents a review period before we can release the documents, in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 13233, Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act, issued November 1, 2001. EO 13233 allows the Presidents at least 90 days to review documents prior to release.

    2. The National Archives has very limited authority to declassify documents. When the National Archives receives a FOIA request for records that are classified, often it cannot respond to the requestor until the originating agency has reviewed the documents and made a release determination. During FY 2002, FOIA requests for classified documents were pending for a median of 887 days. The National Archives spent an average of 20 days responding to those FOIAs; during the other 867 days the requests were on hold while the National Archives waited on release decisions from other agencies.

    3. The vast majority of the National Archives’ FOIA requests are processed by the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). The NPRC receives written requests from the public, state and local government agencies, as well as Federal Agencies. In FY02 the NPRC reports that it received 1,339,367 written requests for access to military and civilian personnel records, including requests from originating agencies. Of that total 8,587 were FOIA requests. During FY 2002, the NPRC was able to complete 6,943 of the FOIA requests (80.85%) within 20 days.
  5. Brief description of why some requests are not granted.
  6. In FY 2002, the National Archives withheld information 123 times at the initial processing and appeal stages under specific exemptions of the FOIA. Approximately 42% of these withholdings were either to protect the privacy of individuals or to withhold information the release of which would harm the national security of the United States. An additional 37% were held pursuant to statute or to protect agency deliberations.

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III. Definitions of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report

  1. Agency-specific acronyms or other terms.
    1. NARA — National Archives and Records Administration

    2. Operational records — records that the National Archives creates or receives in carrying out its mission and responsibilities as an executive branch agency

    3. Archival records — permanent records of the United States Government that have been transferred to the legal custody of the National Archives of the United States
  2. Basic terms, expressed in common terminology.
    1. FOIA/PA request — Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act request. A FOIA request is generally a request for access to records concerning a third party, an organization, or a particular topic of interest. A Privacy Act request is a request for records concerning oneself; such requests are also treated as FOIA requests. (All requests for access to records under these two statutes are included in this report. This report does not account for requests for archival records that do not cite the FOIA or Privacy Act.)

    2. Initial request — a request to a federal agency for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.

    3. Appeal — a request to a federal agency asking that it review at a higher administrative level a full denial or partial denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, or any other FOIA determination such as a matter pertaining to fees.

    4. Processed request or appeal — a request or appeal for which an agency has taken a final action on the request or the appeal in all respects.

    5. Multi-track processing — a system in which simple requests requiring relatively minimal review are placed in one processing track and more voluminous and complex requests are placed in one or more other tracks. Requests in each track are processed on a first-in/first out basis. A requester who has an urgent need for records may request expedited processing (see below).

    6. Expedited processing — an agency will process a FOIA request on an expedited basis when a requester has shown an exceptional need or urgency for the records which warrants prioritization of his or her request over other requests that were made earlier.

    7. Simple request — a FOIA request that an agency using multi-track processing places in its fastest (non expedited) track based on the volume and/or simplicity of records requested.

    8. Complex request — a FOIA request that an agency using multi-track processing places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested.

    9. Grant — an agency decision to disclose all records in full in response to a FOIA request.

    10. Partial grant — an agency decision to disclose a record in part in response to a FOIA request, deleting information determined to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions; or a decision to disclose some records in their entireties, but to withhold others in whole or in part.

    11. Denial — an agency decision not to release any part of a record or records in response to a FOIA request because all the information in the requested records is determined by the agency to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions, or for some procedural reason (such as because no record is located in response to a FOIA request).

    12. Time limits — the time period in the Freedom of Information Act for an agency to respond to a FOIA request (ordinarily 20 working days from proper receipt of a "perfected" FOIA request).

    13. "Perfected" request — a FOIA request for records which adequately describes the records sought, which has been received by the FOIA office of the agency or agency component in possession of the records, and for which there is no remaining question about the payment of applicable fees.

    14. Exemption 3 statute — a separate federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its withholding under FOIA subsection (b)(3).

    15. Median number —the middle, not average, number. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.

    16. Average number — the number obtained by dividing the sum of a group of numbers by the quantity of numbers in the group. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

  1. This section lists the exemption 3 statutes invoked by the National Archives in responding to FOIA requests, the types of information withheld most often, and court decisions supporting these withholdings.
  2. Exemption 3 Statute Types of information withheld Court decisions supporting the withholding
    F.R.Cr.P. 6(e) Grand jury information

    Senate of Puerto Rico v. U.S. D.O.J., 823 F.2d 574 (D.C.Cir. 1987)

    26 U.S.C. § 6103 Income tax information

    Church of Scientology of California v. IRS, 484 U.S.9 (1987)

    42 U.S.C. § 2167

    Atomic energy information

    Meeropol v. Meese, 790 F.2d 942 (D.C. Cir. 1986)

    44 U.S.C. 2201 et. seq. Presidential Records

    Ricchio v. Kline, 773 F.2d

    50 U.S.C. § 403(d)(3) CIA intelligence sources and methods

    CIA v. Sims, 471 U.S. 159 (1985)

    50 U.S.C. § 403(g) Information pertaining to the organization, function or employees of the CIA

    Miner v. CIA, 88 F.3d 796 (9th Cir. 1996)

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V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests

  1. Numbers of initial requests.
    1. umber of requests pending as of end of preceding fiscal year 2,430
    2. umber of requests received during current fiscal year 9,986
    3. umber of requests processed during current fiscal year 8,826
    4. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year 3,590
  2. Disposition of initial requests.
    1. Number of total grants 8,141
    2. Number of partial grants 48
    3. Number of denials 6
      1. a. number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per request)
      (1) Exemption 1 1
      (2) Exemption 2 3
      (3) Exemption 3 24
      (4) Exemption 4 5
      (5) Exemption 5 19
      (6) Exemption 6 30
      (7) Exemption 7(A) 0
      (8) Exemption 7(B) 0
      (9) Exemption 7(C) 12
      (10) Exemption 7(D) 3
      (11) Exemption 7(E) 2
      (12) Exemption 7(F) 1
      (13) Exemption 8 0
      (14) Exemption 9 0
    4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total) 631
      1. no records 207
      2. referrals 85
      3. request withdrawn 13
      4. fee-related reason 2
      5. records not reasonably described 81
      6. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 61
      7. not an agency record 13
      8. duplicate request 48
      9. other 121

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

  1. Numbers of appeals.
    1. umber of appeals received during fiscal year 20
    2. Number of appeals processed during fiscal year 19
  2. Disposition of appeals.
    1. umber completely upheld 12
    2. Number partially reversed 2
    3. Number completely reversed 5
      1. number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per appeal)
      (1) Exemption 1 0
      (2) Exemption 2 1
      (3) Exemption 3 0
      (4) Exemption 4 0
      (5) Exemption 5 2
      (6) Exemption 6 2
      (7) Exemption 7(A) 0
      (8) Exemption 7(B) 0
      (9) Exemption 7(C) 0
      (10) Exemption 7(D) 0
      (11) Exemption 7(E) 0
      (12) Exemption 7(F) 0
      (13) Exemption 8 0
      (14) Exemption 9 0
    4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total) 10
      1. no records 1
      2. referrals 0
      3. request withdrawn 2
      4. fee-related reason 0
      5. records not reasonably described 0
      6. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 3
      7. not an agency record 4
      8. duplicate request 0
      9. other 0

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VII. Compliance with Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests

  1. Median processing time for requests processed during the year.
    1. Simple requests (if multiple tracks used).
      1. number of requests processed 8,633
      2. median number of days to process 71
      1The median numbers noted in this report were extracted from data in the Performance Measurement and Reporting System (PMRS). This system is the official source of statistical information that the National Archives uses to track its performance against the target goals outlined in the agency’s strategic plan. The median shown does not reflect the handling of FOIA requests for presidential records because the processing time for those requests is affected by additional review requirements of the Presidential Records Act and Executive Order 13233.
    2. Complex requests (specify for any and all tracks used).
      1. number of requests processed 193
      2. median number of days to process 20
    3. Requests accorded expedited processing.
      1. number of requests processed 0
      2. median number of days to process 0
  2. Status of pending requests.
    1. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year 3,590
    2. Median number of days that such requests were pending as of that date 887

VIII. Comparisons with Previous Year(s) (Optional)

  1. Other statistics significant to agency.
As noted, the National Archives received 9,986 FOIA requests during FY 2002. Of that total, the agency processed 8,826 requests; 7,532 of those were completed within 20 working days. An overall completion rate of 75.42%.
It should be noted, however, that FOIA requests make up only a very small portion of the requests that the National Archives receives in a year. In FY 2002, the National Archives answered 104,989 requests for access to archival records. In 92.83% (97,465 requests) of those cases we were able to respond to requesters within ten working days. Note that the number of requests cited does not include the 739,687 responses to written requests for military and/or civilian personnel records. Nor does it include the far greater number of research requests handled for researchers visiting National Archives facilities.
The National Archives did not receive any requests for expedited processing in FY 2002.

IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing

  1. Staffing levels.
    1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel 20
    2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years) 7
    3. Total number of personnel (in work-years) 27
  2. Total costs (including staff and all resources).
    1. FOIA processing (including appeals) $ 1,544,160
    2. Litigation-related activities (estimated) N/A
    3. Total costs $1,544,160

X. Fees

  1. Total amount of fees collected by agency, under the FOIA, for processing requests: 0

  2. Percentage of total costs: 0%
The National Archives does not charge fees for document search or review of accessioned (archival) records. However, in accordance with 44 USC § 2116 (c), the National Archives charges fees to recover the costs of making reproductions.

XI. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule)

The National Archives’ FOIA regulations are found in 36 CFR Part 1250. The fee schedule for archival records is found in 36 CFR 1258.

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