Congress reveals results of internal FOIA audit

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has released a progress report detailing the efforts of 100 federal agencies in their responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

In accordance with the Obama administration's advocacy for increased government transparency, agencies were asked to submit logs of their FOIA-tracking data for congressional review late last year.

"The Committee assigned its grade of government-wide FOIA logs based on the average of the 17 Cabinet-level departments, which have the most components and receive the majority of requests," officials stated. "This grade was a 'C-,' which is slightly below average, and it most accurately reflects the performance of the federal government in this evaluation as related to the overwhelming majority of FOIA requests."

One of the most common shortcomings noted by auditors was a lack of sufficient information. Nearly 40 percent of the logs submitted were either missing data in certain fields or provided vague or incomplete answers.

Aside from the understandable errors arising from an onerous administrative burden, systemic flaws such as the absence of proper tools were also observed. For instance, not all agencies were able to comply with the Committee's request that all files be submitted in digital format.

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