Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Report

National Archives And Records Administration (NARA)
Fiscal Year 2004

I. Basic Information Regarding Report

  1. Questions about this report can be addressed to Ramona Oliver, 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. The e-mail address is inquire@nara.gov.

  2. An electronic version of the report is available from the National Archives web site at: www.archives.gov/foia/reports/2004.html.

  3. To request a paper copy of this report write to the FOIA Officer at the address above.

II. How to Make a FOIA Request to the National Archives

  1. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all individual agency components and offices that receive FOIA requests.
  2. The National Archives accepts FOIA requests for the executive branch agency records in its legal custody. That includes the operational records that the National Archives creates while conducting government business and the accessioned archival records it maintains as the archives of the U.S. Government. The National Archives also accepts FOIA requests for Presidential and Vice Presidential records subject to the provisions of the Presidential Records Act.

    For Operational Records

    National Archives FOIA Officer
    Office of General Counsel, Room 3110
    8601 Adelphi Road, Room 3110
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    301-837-2024 (phone)
    301-837-0293 (fax)
    inquire@nara.gov (e-mail)

    For Records of the National Archives' Inspector General

    Office of Inspector General
    Attn: FOIA Request
    8601 Adelphi Road, Room 1300
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    301-837-3000 (phone)
    301-837-3197 (fax)

    For Archival Records (Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area)

    Special Access and FOIA Staff
    8601 Adelphi Road, Room 6350
    College Park, MD 20740-6001
    301-837-3190 (phone)
    301-837-1864 (fax)
    inquire@nara.gov (e-mail)

    For Archival Records (in the Regional Archives System)

    FOIA requests should be addressed to the Director of the Regional Archives where the records are located. See a listing of facility addresses.

    For Presidential Records Subject To FOIA

    Pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, the records of former Presidents become subject to the provisions of the FOIA five years after their leaving office. The incumbent or former President may continue specific restrictions for up to twelve years, after which only statutory FOIA restrictions may be applied. Currently, only the records of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush are subject to the FOIA. FOIA requests for these records should be mailed to the attention of the Library Director at the appropriate facility. See a listing of addresses of the Presidential Libraries.

    For Official Military or Civilian Personnel Files

    National Personnel Records Center
    Military Personnel Records
    9700 Page Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
    mpr.center@nara.gov (e-mail)

    National Personnel Records Center
    Civilian Personnel Records
    111 Winnebago Street
    St. Louis, Missouri 63118-4126
    cpr.center@nara.gov (e-mail)

    All Other Records

    Judicial records, records of the Congress and legislative branch agencies, donated historical materials, and Nixon Presidential Historical Materials are not subject to the provisions of the FOIA. The National Archives cannot respond to FOIA request for records solely in our physical custody, such as those records at regional records centers.

    We have published a FOIA Reference Guide that describes the procedures for making FOIA requests to the National Archives. Additional procedural information can be found in our implementing FOIA regulations at 36 CFR Part 1250.

  3. Brief description of the agency's response times
  4. While the timeliness of our responses to FOIA requests improved over last year, we are still far short of our target for completing 85 percent of FOIA requests for executive branch agency records within 20 working days. Overall, the average age of completed FOIAs increased to 45 working days in FY2004, a 13-percent increase over last year. We have determined that a combination of factors contributes to the increase in response times.

    1. In FY2004, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) received 4,230 FOIA requests. FOIAs for military records take considerably longer than the 20-day standard if the request is for a record that was lost in the 1973 fire at the NPRC and the data must be reconstructed from other sources, or if the record has been borrowed by another agency.

    2. In FY2004, the National Archives received 393 FOIA requests for records that were referred for declassification review. The National Archives has very limited authority to declassify documents. The length of time to respond to a FOIA request can be lengthy if the records must be referred to another agency for declassification review. The National Archives must await the determination of the agencies holding equities in the documents before we can reply to the requester.

    3. In FY2004, the National Archives received 194 FOIA requests which asked for records subject to the Presidential Records Act. When FOIA requests are submitted to those Presidential Libraries subject to both the Presidential Records Act and the FOIA, the National Archives must inform both the current and the former Presidents of which records we propose to open and then allow the Presidents an opportunity to review the records prior to release. Executive Order 13233 allows the Presidents at least 90 days to review such documents.

  5. Brief description of why some requests are not granted
In FY2004, the National Archives withheld information 168 times at the initial processing and appeal stages under specific exemptions of the FOIA. Approximately 48% 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 18% were held pursuant to statute or to protect agency deliberations. Most of the National Archives' decisions not to comply with FOIA requests were for procedural reasons.

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III. Definitions of terms and acronyms used in this report

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

    Operational records – records that the National Archives creates or receives in carrying out its mission and responsibility as an executive branch agency

    Archival records – permanent records of the United States Government that have been transferred to the legal and physical custody of the National Archives of the United States

    Performance Measurement and Reporting System (PMRS) – the official source for statistical management information at the National Archives. PMRS is a "data warehouse" application that collects and publishes data regarding the National Archives' performance relative to the numeric goals in the National Archives' Strategic Plan.

  3. Basic terms, expressed in common terminology (from FOIA Update, Summer 1997)
  4. 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.)

    Initial request -- a request to a Federal agency for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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).

    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).

    "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.

    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).

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

    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.

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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.
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. DOJ, 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)
41 U.S.C. 253b(m)(1)-(2) Business proposal documents not incorporated in contracts Hornbustel v. U.S.DOI, 305 F.Supp.2d 21 (D.C. Cir. 2003)
42 U.S.C. 2167 Atomic energy information Meeropol v. Meese, 790 F.2d 942 (D.C. Cir. 1986)
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)

V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests

  1. Numbers of initial requests.
    1. Number of requests pending as of end of preceding fiscal year 5,093
    2. 1
      1At the end of FY2003, the National Archives reported having 5,235 pending FOIA requests. That number reflected the data available in PMRS at that time. During FY2004, the National Archives reviewed its FOIA data and located some duplicate and/or erroneous entries in its data warehouse. We deleted the duplicate entries and corrected those cases that contained erroneous or outdated information. Based on these changes, the National Archives has adjusted our number of pending FOIA's accordingly.
    3. Number of requests received during current fiscal year 5,627
    4. Number of requests processed during current fiscal year 5,219
    5. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year 5,501
  2. Disposition of initial requests.
    1. Number of total grants 476
    2. Number of partial grants 110
    3. Number of denials 22
      1. number of times each FOIA exemption used
        (counting each exemption once per request)
      (1) Exemption 1 24
      (2) Exemption 2 6
      (3) Exemption 3 28
      (4) Exemption 4 2
      (5) Exemption 5 14
      (6) Exemption 6 56
      (7) Exemption 7(A) 3
      (8) Exemption 7(B) 0
      (9) Exemption 7(C) 16
      (10) Exemption 7(D) 12
      (11) Exemption 7(E) 2
      (12) Exemption 7(F) 0
      (13) Exemption 8 2
      (14) Exemption 9 0
    4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total) 4,611
      1. no records 4,245
      2. referrals 104
      3. request withdrawn 8
      4. fee-related reason 2
      5. records not reasonably described 113
      6. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 38
      7. not an agency record 9
      8. duplicate request 25
      9. other 67 (in some instances "other" refers to records subject to the Presidential Records Act in lieu of FOIA)

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VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

  1. Numbers of appeals.
    1. Number of appeals received during fiscal year 6
    2. Number of appeals processed during fiscal year 6
  2. Disposition of appeals.
    1. Number completely upheld 2
    2. Number partially reversed 1
    3. Number completely reversed 0
      1. number of times each FOIA exemption used
        (counting each exemption once per appeal)
      (1) Exemption 1 0
      (2) Exemption 2 0
      (3) Exemption 3 1
      (4) Exemption 4 0
      (5) Exemption 5 1
      (6) Exemption 6 1
      (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) 3
      1. no records 1
      2. referrals 0
      3. request withdrawn 1
      4. fee-related reason 1
      5. records not reasonably described 0
      6. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 0
      7. not an agency record 0
      8. duplicate request 0
      9. other 0

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 4,920
      2. median number of days to process 352
      2PMRS measures processing times using the average number of days that requests are pending. We have rounded the average number to a whole number.
    2. Complex requests (specify for any and all tracks used).
      1. number of requests processed 299
      2. median number of days to process 3543
      3PMRS measures processing times using the average number of days that requests are pending. We have rounded the average number to a whole number.
    3. Requests accorded expedited processing.
      1. number of requests processed 0
      2. median number of days to process 0
    4. Status of pending requests.
      1. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year 5,501
      2. Median number of days such requests were pending as of that date 9954
      4This is the median number of days calculated using data available in PMRS.

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

  1. Other statistics significant to agency
The National Archives received 5,627 FOIA requests during FY2004. Of that total, the agency processed 5,219 requests; 3,573 of those were completed within 20 working days, an overall completion rate of 63%.
It should be noted that FOIA requests make up only a very small portion of the requests that the National Archives receives in a year. In FY2004, the National Archives answered 1,101,077 written requests, excluding FOIA requests, for access to archival records. This number does not include the 103,828 items furnished to researchers in the National Archives' reading rooms or the far greater number of telephone inquiries, and e-mails handled by National Archives staff.
The National Archives received one request for expedited processing of Presidential records subject to the Presidential Records Act in FY2004. However, the National Archives was unable to comply with this request. As stated in 36 CFR 1250.28, the National Archives can only expedite requests, or segments of requests, for records over which we have complete control. The National Archives cannot expedite requests for Presidential records because we do not control the notification period required under E.O. 13233.

IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing

  1. Staffing levels.
    1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel 22 (represents employees who spend at least 85% of their time processing FOIA requests)
    2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years) 4
    3. Total number of personnel (in work-years) 26
  2. Total costs (including staff and all resources).
    1. FOIA processing (including appeals) $1,425,774
    2. Litigation-related activities (estimated) N/A
    3. Total costs $1,425,774

X. Fees

  1. Total amount of fees collected by agency, under the FOIA, for processing requests: $3,587.86
  2. Percentage of total costs: 0.3%
For the National Archives' operational records, fees are assessed in accordance with the National Archives' FOIA fee schedule. Fees for operational records are not charged if the aggregate of all applicable fees is less than $10. Commercial requesters are charged search, review, and reproduction fees. All other requesters are provided the first 100 pages of reproductions or their equivalent free of charge. The fees referenced above reflect fees for operational records.
The National Archives does not charge fees for document search or review of archival records. However, in accordance with 44 USC § 2116(c), the National Archives charges standard fees to recover the costs of making reproductions in response to requests received by the National Archives. In our current system there is no way to distinguish reproductions made in response to FOIA requests records, from reproductions made in response to other types of requests.

XI. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule)

The National Archives' FOIA regulations are found in 36 CFR Part 1250, which includes the fee schedule for the National Archives' operational records. The fee schedule for archival records is found in 36 CFR Part 1258.

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