Others, such as the State Department, have been known to ignore you for years, while others just stiff you outright.
Now the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, a 26-year-old nonprofit, decided to test 21 various agencies’ responses to requests for documents under that act.
First, they sent identical requests on the same days (either Jan. 22 or Jan. 23) and made those requests as simple as possible. So they didn’t ask, for example, for information that might need to be partially censored for some sensitive national security or other reason.
They only asked for lists that the agencies are supposed to maintain, in a basic requirement of the law, of what other folks have requested.
“Proof that the request was, indeed, a simple one, came in just nine days,” TRAC co-directors Susan B. Long and David Burnham recently wrote the House Oversight committee, “when we received data” from the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
But, as of April 24, “when we published our report, only seven out of 21 agencies had provided usable data,” they wrote.
In addition to DHS headquarters, the Army, the Bureau of Land Management, the Justice Department’s civil rights and management divisions, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services all responded in a timely manner with the requested info.
The CIA denied the request outright, while the Bureau of Prisons, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent over records “that were clearly unresponsive,” TRAC said.
Well, to borrow from The Bard, you can FOIA those documents all you want, but will they be released when you do so?