Thursday, April 25, 2019

DoD's Annual FOIA Report

Each year the Defense Department prepares an annual report on its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) activities. As its name implies, the 'Act' requires full (or partial) disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the Government. There are nine exemptions to what must be disclosed including:

  • classified information (obviously)
  • related to internal personnel rules and practices
  • prohibited from disclosure by another federal law
  • trade secrets and other confidential business information (can't get your competitors bid information)
  • inter agency communications protected by attorney work product or attorney client privilege
  • matters of personal privacy
  • compiled for law enforcement purposes that meet certain conditions (endanger a case or a life)
  • information relating to the supervision of financial institutions
  • geological information concerning wells (that's a weird one)

In Fiscal Year 2018, the Defense Department processed more than 54 thousand FOIA requests. Of those 54 thousand requests, only five percent or 2,652 requests were denied based on one of the foregoing exemptions. An additional 15,801 requests were partially granted and partially denied based on the statutory exemptions.

Looking at the data more granular, DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) and DCMA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) processed 103 and 210 cases respectively. For DCAA, about half the cases were closed as having no data responsive to the request. Four requests were denied based on one of the exemptions (probably involving contractor proprietary data) and four other requests were denied because the source of the records sought belonged to another Agency.

For DCMA, 28 of its 210 requests were withdrawn while another 84 requests were denied because the information requested was not an Agency record. DCMA made no 'full' denials but did make 43 partial denials.

The ASBCA (Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals) received 21 requests. One was withdrawn, 15 were denied as having no 'responsive' records, and the remaining five were eight granted in full or in part.

More than half (26,415) of all FOIA requests were to the Army. The Navy was a distant second (10,025) followed by DLA (5,266), and the Air Force (4,216).

You can read the full Annual FOIA report here.

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