The U.S. Department of Defense reported receiving more than 57,000 Freedom of Information Act requests across 33 components last year. As relayed in the DoD’s Annual FOIA report, a yearly requirement for federal FOIA offices, the divisions of the Army received 26,812 requests for information; the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency received 22. Only a minority of these resulted in fully-granted releases.
Want to know exactly what thousands of requesters were looking to get? Check the FOIA log.
Under the FOIA, federal agencies must assign tracking numbers to incoming requests and track their status in the process. Most agencies also keep a list of those tracking numbers, the nature of the request, and how many warranted redactions or denials or no documents at all.
A look at an agency’s FOIA log can serve as inspiration for future requests or a shortcut to existing material. Request the materials already released to an existing request, and you can save the agency - and yourself - a lot of time spent searching, redacting, and copying documents.
Some agencies proactively release their FOIA logs (and other processed materials) on the agency FOIA Reading Room.
Those that aren’t already publicly available can themselves be requested via FOIA request. MuckRock users have submitted hundreds of requests for agency FOIA logs, resulting in hundreds of logs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, and many more.
For a limited time, MuckRock will be filing your suggestions for FOIA logs you want to see. Browse through the 2018 list released by the DoD’s Executive Services Directorate (embedded above) or another FOIA log of your choice, and then let us know via the form below which records you’d like to get too.
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