DHS needs to improve FOIA processing, cost reporting, congressional investigators say

Although the Homeland Security Department pledged three years ago to steadily reduce backlogged Freedom of Information Act requests, the number has risen even higher, congressional investigators said.

DHS made some progress by the end of fiscal 2012 to reduce the backlog, but the numbers have risen to more than 50,000 in fiscal 2013, an increase of more than 9,000 since 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office report (pdf) released Nov. 19.

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Seven months and counting: A FOIA lament

Today marks the seven-month anniversary of my oldest outstanding public records request, so please indulge me in some ventilation. Back on April 14, before the snow of last winter melted, I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Today, snow once more whitens the ground, and I'm still waiting.

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Opinion: The BLM fails to provide public records

When High Country News began using the Freedom of Information Act to gather official reports of threats against federal employees in the West, we didn't expect that the main obstacle would arise in one federal agency's headquarters.

Our intention was positive: By examining and summarizing the incidents, we hoped to ease tensions and encourage more respect for the federal employees as they go about their duties in the field.

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My mystifying journey into the world of FOIA (part 3)

Late last month, I found myself pleading with a U.S. Army FOIA specialist. How can you have no records for my request? My FOIA request for records of debarred contractor was three months old at this point, and my call to the FOIA Public Liaison (if that's really what he was) had succeeded in prompting some movement by the Army. But this wasn't what I was expecting.

On Aug. 25, I got a letter pronouncing the final word on my May 20 request. No records exist. How could that be possible, I wondered.

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Getting What You Need Under FOIA

As an attorney, you have a duty to do an adequate investigation before asserting any claim, but your investigation can’t intrude on others’ privacy rights. Getting public record information is one way to get what you need without a privacy problem. But what if the information isn’t available online or through a visit to a federal agency? Make a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Ask Ars: Can I see what information the feds have on my travel?

Lately I’ve been on something of a public records binge. I asked for records about my license plate reader data from local law enforcement agencies. I asked for complaint records from the Federal Trade Commission about a sketchy Bitcoin mining hardware maker. A few more requests are still pending.

And last summer, I asked United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency for my travel records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Recently, I got an answer back—sort of.

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iFOIA’s new site features tracking

From Investigative Reporting Workshop: iFOIA, a free online system to create, send and track federal and state records requests, is now up and running. After nearly a year of project development, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) offered iFOIA to Bloomberg News and NPR for beta testing. Since its official release at the Online News Association Conference on Oct. 17, major newsrooms, including The Washington Post, have hosted representatives from the Reporters Committee for tutorials on how this resource can be used effectively by journalists….

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