Summary of Fiscal Year 2015 Annual FOIA Reports Published

As announced on FOIA Post last week, all 100 agencies subject to the FOIA have finalized their Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Annual FOIA Reports, and OIP is pleased to published today its annual government-wide summary of the data found in these reports.

In order to provide agency personnel and the public with a comprehensive picture of the government’s FOIA activities during the fiscal year, OIP issues a summary of the information contained within agency Annual FOIA Reports every year. As in previous years, the Summary of Annual FOIA Reports for FY 2015 looks at government-wide data for many key statistics in FOIA administration and highlights significant numbers reported by individual agencies.  Additionally, the summary identifies trends in FOIA processing by comparing the FY 2015 Annual FOIA Report data with data from prior fiscal years.

As described in this year’s summary, during FY 2015, the government overall continued to face high numbers of incoming FOIA Requests, receiving over 700,000 requests. Agencies responded by processing a record high number of nearly 770,000 requests. This strong effort led to a significant 35.6% reduction in the government’s overall request backlog. The vast majority of agencies (seventy-one) reported low backlogs of fewer than 100 requests. Notably, fifty-seven agencies reported a request backlog of below twenty requests, and twenty-nine reported that they did not have any backlog of requests. The government overall achieved this while still maintaining a release rate of over 91%. As in prior years, the most cited FOIA exemptions continued to be Exemption 6 and 7(C), which both protect personal privacy. The top five agencies that received and processed the most requests as part of these efforts were the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs.

OIP’s summary this year concludes by observing that while much has been achieved this past year there is still work to be done for further improvements in FY 2016. Agencies must continue to focus on improving timeliness in their responses, particularly for “simple track” requests and to reduce the age of their oldest requests.

OIP’s Summary of Annual FOIA Reports for FY 2015 is available on our Reports page where it can be compared with previous summaries dating back to FY 2006. The data collected in agency Annual FOIA Reports can also easily be viewed, compared, and analyzed on FOIA.gov.