Failed Pentagon fax machine blocks FOIA requests

From ars technica: The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) will not be faxing any orders to Five Guys or receiving journalists’ Freedom Of Information Act requests anytime soon. According to a report from the FOIA request service MuckRock, the OSD’s sole fax machine—the only effective electronic conduit for sending FOIA requests to the Pentagon—is down for the count and won’t be replaced until October at the earliest. With the threat of a federal government shutdown looming, it may be longer than that.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) also accepts FOIA requests by snail mail, as well as through a web portal. But the web portal is problematic, to say the least—the site seems to be designed to discourage FOIA submissions and makes it impossible for automated requests to be sent. Just getting an account to log into the system can take a while. And even when the FOIA requests get into the hands of the OSD, there’s no guarantee of a speedy reply—the OSD had a backlog last year of over 1,000 requests awaiting processing. (DOD as a whole had over 7,000 FOIA requests hung in the queue.)

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