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Aug 27 15

URBAN AIR INITIATIVE, INC. et al v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 78 documents from 12 FOIA cases filed between August 16, 2015 and August 22, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. URBAN AIR INITIATIVE, INC. et al v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Aug 17, 2015)
    The Urban Air Initiative and the Energy Future Coalition submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning the EPAct Gasoline Fuel Effects Study. The EPA told the organizations that there were 83,000 potentially responsive records and that fees were estimated at $24,000. The agency encouraged the organizations to narrow their request read more…
Aug 27 15

FOIA Activity: 13 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 13 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 16, 2015 and August 22, 2015. These are associated with 13 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:2012cv04008American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California et al v. Department of Justice
    • August 21, 2015: ORDER by Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James granting [83] Stipulation of Partial Dismissal with Prejudice. (rmm2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/21/2015)
  2. read more…

Aug 24 15

New Tool Reveals Agencies Struggling to Keep Up

by FOIA Project Staff
requests_changeFigure 1. Changes in FOIA Requests Received, Closed and Pending During FY 2015

So far during FY 2015, federal agencies are falling further behind in their efforts to keep up with requests for information from the public, an initial examination of new data compiled by the FOIA Project suggests. Pending FOIA requests have risen in eight out of nine agencies examined. Overall pending cases are up 30 percent since the end of FY 2014, while average monthly closures during FY 2015 have fallen 8 percent from their average during FY 2014. See Figure 1 and Table 1.

Table 1. Changes in FOIA Receipts, Closures and Pending Workload*
FOIA Office FOIA
Requests
Received
Change
FY2014 to FY2015
Received Closures Pending
Total 441,966 1% -8% 30%
DHS Headquarters 2,024 -2% -8% 45%
US Citizenship and Immigration Services 313,601 2% -10% 38%
DOD Army 90,727 -8% -8% 18%
DOI Bureau of Land Management 2,337 10% 0% 42%
Fish and Wildlife Service 3,494 2% 11% -3%
DOJ Civil Rights 1,377 104% 37% 107%
Drug Enforcement Administration 1,787 11% 4% 23%
National Security Division 647 10% -14% 23%
Environmental Protection Agency 25,972 6% 9% 5%
* Covers FOIA requests from Oct 2012 through June 2015 except for USCIS (data only through December 2015) and DEA as well as EPA (data only through March 2015). Percent change statistics based on average monthly receipts and closures during FY 2014 versus FY 2015, and number pending at the end of FY 2014 versus latest month available for FY 2015.

During FY 2015 these same agencies took an average of 38 calendar days to respond. The Army was quickest, averaging monthly between 25 and 29 days to process a FOIA request. At the other extreme, average response times had risen to 113 days for the Bureau of Land Management and topped 100 days for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Two components of the Justice Department took the prize for the length of time FOIA requests had been waiting unanswered as of the end of June 2015. Requesters to the National Security Division still waiting for an answer had already chocked up an average of 513 days and still had not received any response; requesters to the Civil Rights Division had already been waiting for an average of 345 days.

These findings are based upon data compiled for a new interactive data tool the FOIA Project released today. The tool lets you graph month-by-month FOIA processing trends by agency, and within agencies by the “track” assigned — simple, complex, expedited, etc. The monthly number of closed and pending requests by agency and track are displayed, along with average processing and wait times.

The data compiled by the FOIA Project in the tool were obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center at Syracuse University. TRAC, which administers the FOIA Project, has been requesting current information each quarter from 21 federal agencies on their backlog and processing times.

Thus far, usable data have been received from nine agencies covering 441,966 individual FOIA administrative requests. These nine agencies are: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Security and Civil Rights divisions of the Justice Department, the Headquarters office of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service. Additional agencies and periods will be added as more comply with the FOIA requests they have been sent for this data.

The data tool released today is designed to let you explore the data on your own. In addition to comparing agencies based on their month-to-month number of closures and pending cases, you can also examine how long it has taken them to close those cases on average. And you can compare pending and closure times based on the track the agency assigned the FOIA request to, and more.

We have been separately scoring those agencies that have yet to respond with usable data to any of our requests. See TRAC’s earlier reports on the refusal of the CIA to provide data and how agencies scored after the first round of requests.

For further information, read about how to use the tool, and how the data were obtained and compiled. Want to see data added to the tool from another agency? Contact us to volunteer to “adopt an agency” by using the form below:

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Aug 20 15

JAMES MADISON PROJECT v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 68 documents from 11 FOIA cases filed between August 9, 2015 and August 15, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. JAMES MADISON PROJECT v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Aug 12, 2015)
    The James Madison Project submitted a FOIA request to the Civil Division at the Department of Justice for records pertaining to the book “No Easy Day,” a firsthand account of the death of Osama bin Laden, including analyses of taking legal action against the book’s author, Mark Owen. The Civil Division indicated that a number of the records were exempt under Exemption 5 (privilege) and Exemption 7 (law enforcement records) read more…
Aug 20 15

FOIA Activity: 3 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 3 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 9, 2015 and August 15, 2015. These are associated with 3 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:2014cv03010Electronic Frontier Foundation v. National Security Agency et al
    • August 12, 2015: STIPULATION AND ORDER re [27] STIPULATION WITH PROPOSED ORDER Stipulated Request for Continuance of Summary Judgment Briefing to Permit Reprocessing of Document and Proposed Order. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 8/11/15. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/12/2015)
  2. read more…

Aug 13 15

FOIA Activity: 12 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 12 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 2, 2015 and August 8, 2015. These are associated with 11 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAE 2:2011cv02799(PS) Jones v. Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
    • August 3, 2015: ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Craig M. Kellison on 8/3/2015 DENYING [103] Motion for Correction of Record as moot. (Michel, G.)
  2. read more…

Aug 13 15

BRICK v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 12 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 55 documents from 11 FOIA cases filed between August 2, 2015 and August 8, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. BRICK v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Aug 3, 2015)
    Christopher Brick, editor/director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for 52 pages of records and attachments from Eleanor Roosevelt’s FBI file that had not been released as the result of a 1982 disclosure. The FBI disclosed 338 pages with redactions made under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records), Exemption 7 (D) (confidential sources), and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques) read more…
Aug 11 15

Two New Data Tools

by Jeff Lamicela

We have added two new tools that provide greater insight into how FOIA lawsuits are handled in the district courts: Issues Search and Recent Docket Events.

read more…

Aug 7 15

Everytown for Gun Safety v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and 26 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 192 documents from 26 FOIA cases filed between July 19, 2015 and August 1, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. Everytown for Gun Safety v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (filed Jul 23, 2015)
    Everytown for Gun Safety submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for aggregate gun trace data. BATF told Everytown that its 2010 appropriations legislation forbid it from using funds to process requests for gun trace data. Everytown appealed to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld BATF’s decision read more…
Aug 7 15

FOIA Activity: 23 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 23 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between July 19, 2015 and August 1, 2015. These are associated with 21 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAE 1:2015cv00007Turner v. United States Department of the Treasury
    • July 27, 2015: ORDER GRANTING [12] Ex Parte Application for Extension of Time to Respond to Complaint. Defendant shall answer or otherwise respond to plaintiff's Complaint on or before August 25, 2015. Order signed by Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto on 7/25/2015. (Timken, A)
  2. read more…