25-Year-Old FOIA Request Confirms FOIA Delays Continue Unabated

Above image: Chart of backlogged FOIA requests. Source: National Security Archive.

The growing backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests made of the government is known as the “referral black hole.” At least one request has been stuck in it for an astonishing 25 years.

That’s according to a survey conducted by the National Security Archive Audit. It determined there is a correlation between the government agencies with the oldest requests, and the largest FOIA backlogs.

The report pointed out that multiple federal agencies may claim ownership of a single FOIA request, which has resulted in a costly “daisy chain of referrals that can often result in a decades long delay.”

The National Security Archive says five federal agencies have FOIA requests more than a decade old. The National Archives and Records Administration, has the FOIA request that dates back more than 25 years.

In 2011, the group notified the owner of the then-oldest request: Dr. Monte Finkelstein. He replied by telling the National Security Archive:

When I made the original request in 1993, I was a Professor of History at Tallahassee Community College and was writing my book, Separatism, the Allies and the Mafia; the Struggle for Sicilian Independence, 1943-1948. It was published in 1998…I finally gave up waiting for any other materials that I may have requested suspecting that for reasons beyond my control the material was not going to be declassified for my use. …I would be interested to know if anything will be done to speed up the process of answering FOIA requests. I know that it would be very helpful to historians if they did not have to wait 18 years to get materials”.

Dr. Monte Finkelstein, referring to his aging FOIA request

Continue reading by clicking this link: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/foia-audit/foia/2019-03-08/25-year-old-foia-request-confirms-foia-delays-continue-unabated


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