The Blog

Homeland Only Fully Approves 10% of Freedom of Information Requests

FOIA staff of 400; costs over $38 million.

3:32 PM, Feb 5, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

According to an annual report for 2012 just released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DHS processed a total of 205,895 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests during the year. The report, presented by Acting Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer Jonathan R. Cantor, shows that DHS reduced the backlog of such requests by 30 percent during the year. However, a deeper look at the numbers reveals that the agency only fully granted just over 10 percent of FOIA requests that were processed.  

Here are the figures from Table B (1) in the report:

205,895 – Total requests processed
21,715 – Full grants
118,719 – Number of partial grants/partial denials
65,461 – Number of full denials (Exemptions/Other)

The percentages break down this way:

32% Fully Denied (although more than half of the denials were due to “no records” or “improper FOIA request”)
89.5% Fully or Partially Denied
10.5% Fully Granted

The report also states that the federal agency employs almost 400 people just to deal with FOIA requests.

Also noted in the report is that freedom of information isn’t free. Costs associates with processing FOIA requests, including almost $2,000,000 for litigation, were $38,633,002 during 2012. Only $435,890 in fees was collected to offset these costs.

The Department of Homeland Security is led by Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers