DC submits FOIA details for 2014 to Council – and finally posts them for the public
dcogcadmin | March 14, 2015 | Last modified: September 8, 2019
UPDATED 6-7-15 The Open Government Coalition has notified the D.C. government that the published FOIA report descried below is incorrect. After review, officiais agreed and said the report will be withdrawn, revised and resubmitted to the Council.
Details are in the Coalition’s new posting, here.
The report, of all FOIA requests processed in 2014 by District of Columbia agencies, omitted the agency that usually receives the most — the Metopolitan Police Department.
The Coalition’s full analysis of the 2014 year is thus delayed, and completion can’t be assured until D.C. government publishes corrected data.
A report on how the government handled public records requests last year just became available to the public in the last 48 hours, well past a February 1 deadline set by law.
The report, required by the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, covering the prior fiscal year (October 2013 through September 2014), includes sections by the Mayor and Attorney General with key measures of transparency, such as delays in agency processing, denials of requests, and results of appeals and lawsuits.
The Coalition obtained a copy with transmittal letters to the Council from the D.C. Secretary and AG dated February 3 and January 30 and posted it.
But the reports were not available to the public, as also required by law. Past reports have been on the website of the Office of the Secretary of the District, but not that for 2014 until just now (posting dated March 19).
The delay is unexplained.
The government reports provide no analysis. Accordingly, the D.C. Open Government Coalition has supplied its own each year (the one for 2013, for example, is available here).
A quick glance shows several notable facts about DC FOIA in 2014:
—even though the mayor installed a new on-line request system called FOIAXpress in July to make the process easier for the public and staff, requests dropped 25 per cent, from 6,600 in 2014 to about 5,000 in 2014;
—about 20 per cent, one request out of five, were denied in part, the highest rate ever, while the rate of complete denial continued at about 8 percent;
—on-time performance, answering requests within 15 workdays, inched up slightly; that is, only 33 percent were late, down from 38 per cent in 2013. Of those late, almost half took over 26 workdays or more than five weeks.
—dissatisfied customers grew more numerous — 115 appealed to the mayor, a 44 per cent jump from the 80 appeals in 2013.
The Coalition’s full analysis is expected in April.