Federal agencies received 789,000 FOIA requests in 2016, a jump from the level of just above 700,000 in the prior three years, while average processing time for requests increased to 28 days from 21 during that time, the Justice Department has reported.
The backlog at the end of FY 2016 stood at 115,000, a 12 percent increase from 2015. The ten oldest outstanding requested dated to between 1993 and 1998.
DHS continued to be the subject of the most requests, accounting for 326,000, followed by Justice, DoD, the National Archives and Records Administration and VA. Those five accounting for two-thirds of requests received government-wide.
Agencies processed nearly 760,000 requests, a slight drop from the prior year, although still well above historical figures—in no prior year had the number exceeded 678,000. Of the total processed, decisions were made to release or withhold information in almost 500,000—for the eighth year in a row, full or partial releases were made in more than 90 percent of those—while the rest were closed for procedural reasons such as no records meeting the request being located.
Where requests were denied, the most commonly invoked exceptions were those for national security, personal privacy, and protection of law enforcement techniques, procedures, and guidelines.