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Backlog Down but Wait Times Up for DEA FOIA Requests

by FOIA Project Staff on September 14th, 2015

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reduced its backlog of pending FOIA requests, but this hasn’t been enough to stem the increase in waiting times, according to the latest available case-by-case records from October 2012 through June 2015. Monthly trends in processing times for this period are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Average Days Waiting, DEA FOIA Requests
October 2012 through June 2015

Updated information for the DEA has just been compiled and added to the FOIA Project’s interactive tool that provides very current monthly data on the FOIA workload processing of selected federal agencies. Information on each FOIA request received by the DEA since October 2012 was received from the agency by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which administers the FOIA Project. See the previous report on this project.

Agency records show that the DEA’s unanswered FOIA requests rose steadily from 269 in March 2014 to a peak of 439 seven months later at the end of October 2014. But in each month since then, the DEA’s FOIA office has managed to reduce its backlog, completing a record number of 195 FOIA requests in June 2015. By the end of June, it had cut pending requests to 340, a 63 percent drop from its earlier peak (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Number of Pending DEA FOIA Requests
October 2012 through June 2015

Despite these efforts, wait times for pending FOIA requests have been rising steadily since October 2014, as seen in Figure 1. By the end of that month, pending requests to the DEA had been waiting unanswered for an average of 96 calendar days after their receipt. Average wait times have continued to rise now for seven straight months. As of the end of June, pending FOIA requests had been waiting and were still unanswered by the Drug Enforcement Agency for an average of 136 calendar days.

For full details, go to the FOIA Project’s Agency FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times interactive user tool, where you can chart by processing track — simple, complex, and expedited.

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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