Waiting for FOIA requests to be completed is always hard, but some people might be waiting years to get responses. An analysis of MuckRock data showed request completion over a duration of four years - while almost 93% requests to federal, state, and local agencies were done within a year, more than 1500 requests took between two to five years to be completed.
Total requests completed over four years
Just 45% of all requests (slightly more than 10,000) were completed in a month. The visualization below shows the number of requests completed on each day of the first month, from which see that 4% of all FOIA requests were completed in just one day.
Cumulative percentage of all requests completed per month
All requests completed within 30 days
At the state level, requests may be fulfilled on a vastly different timeline, depending on which state the requests are sent to. The data showed an average request completion time ranging from 11 days for Arkansas to 112 days for Mississippi. Massachusetts was the third slowest state, with an average of 81.7 days.
Average Request time per state
Average request time per state
However, there wasn’t really a correlation between the duration of the request and the success rate.
Success rate per state
Looking at Massachusetts data in detail, a larger disparity was found for local request data per town. While a few towns took just a day or two to complete requests, 10 towns had average request times of over a year.
Average request time per Massachusetts municipality
These visualizations were made in Tableau, by analyzing MuckRock’s request data via our API. The analysis and visualization making process along some more area graphs for federal, state, and local requests are coming up soon.
Image by Jslipscomb via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0