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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA)
38 DAYS TO RESPOND TO ARCHIVE; OUTSTANDING REQUESTS AS
OLD AS 14 YEARS
|Recordkeeping Issues - Although the CIA provided
ten FOIA requests in response to the Archive's request, including
six filed by the National Security Archive between May 29,
1987 and July 11, 1989 the Agency later denied that the Archive
had pending requests filed prior to 1990. The reason for this
is that the CIA stayed all pending Archive requests in the
late 1980's pending the resolution of fee status litigation
with the Archive. After the court held that the Archive is
a representative of the news media for FOIA fee status purposes,
the CIA reopened and renumbered several of the outstanding
Archive FOIA requests. These requests may appear in the CIA's
database as stemming from 1992 or even more recently.
|Ten Oldest - The CIA responded approximately
38 business days after the request was made, reporting ten
FOIA requests ranging from May 29, 1987 to November 22, 1989.
Nine out of the ten were from media representatives including
the National Security Archive, the Syracuse Post Standard,
the Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal, and American
Broadcasting Corporation. The media requests concern topics
such as Jonathan Pollard (the Israeli spy arrested in 1985),
the Iran-Contra investigations, the bombing of Pan Am Flight
103 (in December 1988), James Howard Guerin, and the Cuban
Missile Crisis. The tenth request was from a current CIA employee
requesting personnel and security files pertaining to himself.
One of the Archive requests in the Ten Oldest group was processed
soon after the response was received from the CIA. As noted
above, several of the Archive requests to the CIA were suspended
by CIA for several years pending resolution of a fee dispute
with the Archive. The CIA then reopened most of these requests
|Workload Statistics - Although CIA's reported statistics
from 1998 through 2002 indicate that the agency has experienced
a dramatic reduction in the number of FOIA requests received
(down 55% from 6,121 in 1998 to 2,727 in 2002), the number
processed each year also has decreased (down 57% from 7,169
processed in 1998 to 3,046 processed in 2002). CIA's processing
rate per year -- a comparison of the number of requests processed
to the number received -- decreased from 121.73% in 1998 to
111.70% in 2002.
|Backlog Statistics - CIA's backlog has increased
(from 1506 FOIA requests pending at the end of 1998 to 1547
FOIA requests pending at the end of 2002). Its backlog as
a percentage of FOIA requests processed each year has increased
from 21% in 1998 to 43.2% in 2002. Its backlog rate per year
-- a comparison of the number of requests pending at the end
of the year to the number received during that year -- has
increased from 21.10% in 1998 to 50.79% in 2002.
|Processing Time - Under its two track
system, CIA reports median response times in 2002 ranging
from 7 days for a simple request to 83 days for complex requests.
The data over 1998-2002 shows steady improvement in the processing
time for complex requests. CIA's FY 2002 annual FOIA Report
indicates that "[f]or those FOIA cases closed in FY 2002,
80% were closed in 1.5 years; median response time was 0.24
years; average response time was 1.06 years." The over
1500 backlogged requests at the end of fiscal year 2002, however,
had a median age of 601 days (over two years). The 15 to 16-year
backlog for the Ten Oldest FOIA Requests described above show
that some requests suffer a much more extensive wait, as these
requests have been pending from 4090 to 3400 business days.
No processing times are reported for expedited requests.
CIA May 29,
CIA March 1,
CIA April 22,
CIA May 15,
CIA July 7,
CIA July 11,
20, 1989 Letter
2, 1989 Letter
3, 1989 Letter
22, 1989 Letter