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As Performance Lags, AG Says Agencies Are Meeting FOIA Milestones

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  1. Freedom of Information
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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sent an 118-page report titled “IMPROVING AGENCY DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION” to the White House reviewing agency response to the President’s December, 2005 Executive Order on the Freedom of Information Act. Justice and the White House argue that the executive order makes a pending FOIA reform bill unnecessary. The report generally praises federal agencies for meeting “milestones” they set toward improving service to FOIA requesters. The AG’s first example does raise some questions, however. It praised HUD saying it “has taken the challenge of backlog reduction seriously,” What HUD accomplished was issuing, a year early, a memo on dealing with the problem. But HUD’s 2006 report on performance, recently filed more than three months after the deadline, shows the department’s actual backlog rose 33% during the year. HUD began 2006 with 3,725 unprocessed requests. It ended 2006 with 4,951 requests unprocessed. (6/8/07)