FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: OGIS revisits "still-interested" letters

Allan BlutsteinComment

Further Findings on the Use of “Still Interested” Letters

OGIS Blog, May 4, 2016

As we reported last week, data on the historical use of “still interested” letters cannot capture the full effect that the letters have on FOIA requesters but show that agencies close very few requests using these letters.  For Part 2 of our review of still interested letters, we followed up with seven FOIA programs to learn more about how these letters were used.

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Part 2 of our assessment used data from agencies’ Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Annual FOIA Reports to identify the FOIA programs in which the actual or apparent use of still interested letters might have the greatest effect on requesters. To ensure that we captured all requests that might have been closed using still interested letters, we reviewed data on all administrative closures described in a way that might be connected to still interested letters plus all requests reported as withdrawn. At the seven FOIA programs we identified, we asked a series of questions about their use of still interested letters, and how they report them.

Similar to our results from Part 1, we found that despite the fact that we targeted FOIA programs whose use of still interested letters might have the greatest effect on requesters and that we included requests that were likely not closed using still interested letters in our data, the FOIA programs we reviewed closed relatively few requests possibly using these letters. Of the 46,019 requests the FOIA programs we reviewed processed in FY 2014, about 5.5 percent (2,535 requests) were closed using a method that might be related to a still interested letter.

Read more here.