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DHS Privacy Office FOIA Report March 2015

Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office 2015 Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer Report to the Attorney General of the United States March 2015. “The Report summarizes the Department’s accomplishments in achieving its strategic goals related to transparency, openness, and implementing FOIA from March 2014 through March 2015…a word about the backlog: As has been the case for several years, DHS continues to receive the largest number of FOIA requests of any federal department or agency in each fiscal year (FY),receiving almost 30 percent of all requests received by the Federal Government. Since President Obama took office, DHS has experienced a 182 percent increase in the number of FOIA requests received. In fiscal year 2014, DHS received 291,242 FOIA requests, its highest number of requests to date. The DHS Privacy Office responsible for the oversight of the Department’s FOIA program, partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to eliminate the CBP backlog in 2015. The DHS Privacy Office used its COTS web application solution to process requests without the need to detail employees to a CBP location. The DHS Privacy Office redirected its staff to process the backlogged CBP requests and al so hired three contractors to assist in this reduction effort. The DHS Privacy Office, on behalf of CBP, closed 5,014 requests at the end of FY 2014, which attributes in part to CBP’s success story. Due to the record-setting number of FOIA requests, the DHS backlog increased from 51,575 to 103,480 in fiscal year 2014. Despite the increase in the backlog, the Department closed 16 percent more requests in FY 2014 compared to FY 2013. In addition, 80 percent of the Components had a median processing time under 20 days for the more than 75,687 simple requests. Sixty-seven percent of the Components had average processing times under 20 days for simple perfected closed requests. DHS closed eight of the 10 oldest requests in FY 2014, and 86 percent of the 10 oldest requests for each of the Components combined.”

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