DoJ reduces FOIA backlog by 26 percent

Friday - 2/24/2012, 9:19am EST

Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy, Department of Justice

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The Department of Justice decreased its backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests and processed a record number of requests in fiscal 2011.

DoJ has received more than 60,000 FOIA requests in each of the past three years, according to the agency's website. DoJ reduced the backlog from 5,160 requests in fiscal 2010 to 3,816 in fiscal 2011 — a reduction of 26 percent. The administrative appeal backlog also decreased by 41 percent.

Of the requests it processed in fiscal 2011, the agency released in full or part 94.5 percent.

The increased efficiency in FOIA processing is the result of training staff and anticipating documents the public will want, said Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy at DoJ, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

DoJ also has asked agencies to find ways to increase efficiencies; for example, "find ways to simplify the consultation process," Pustay said.

FOIA.gov was developed last year by DoJ as part of its open government plan. A new feature of the site is the "find" tab that allows users to search for documents across the entire federal government, Pustay said.

"We're really hopeful that that feature will enhance the availability and access of information to the public and ... without any need for anyone to make a FOIA request," she said.

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