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DOJ claims they responded to FOIA Audit, “but not in time to be included in the report.”

March 15, 2011

"The check's in the mail."

After more than 115 business days, The Department of Justice did not respond to a FOIA request asking for changes it had implemented in response to a memo from Rahm Emanuel and Bob Bauer.  The law requires agencies to respond within 20 business days.

Andrew Ramonas of Main Justice –an online news source– questioned how this glacial response time squared with Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli’s claim that the DOJ “had a pretty good year” in responding to FOIA requests.  In response, DOJ Spokeswoman Jessica Smith stated to Ramonas in an email that, “We have responded to this request, but not in time to be in the report.” The National Security Archive has yet to received a response.

Smith also said that “the bulk of” the material requested in the Archive’s request “was publicly available on the OIP’s website.”  Which makes the longer-than-115-day response time all the more troubling.

As the Associated Press points out, “The Justice Department has responsibility for ensuring government-wide compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.”

The department of Justice also has pending FOIA requests older than seven years.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice launched FOIA.gov, a site which repackages data from agency reports into an aesthetically appealing website. The data displayed by FOIA.gov has been publicly available for years.  But to be honest, I found it much easier to evaluate agency FOIA performance by going straight to the source and using the pdf versions of the agencies’ annual FOIA reports that FOIA.gov draws its data from.  You can still reach the complete, printable .pdf versions of the reports by going here.

A crystal bowl is nice.  But the proof is in the pudding.

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