Annual Report on the Freedom of Information Act
for Fiscal Year 2005

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
February 1, 2006

The following information is submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552(e)) (FOIA), as amended.

I. Basic Information Regarding Report
A. The Board's contact person for questions about this report is Ms. Jeanne M. McLaughlin, Manager, Freedom of Information Office, Mail Stop 132, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551; Tel: 202-452-3684; TDD only: 202-452-3544; FAX: 202-872-7565.
B. Electronic address for this report on the Board's World Wide Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/anrpt_2005.htm
C. A paper copy of this report may be obtained by downloading it from the Board's web site (see I.B. above) or requesting it from the Board's Freedom of Information Office (Tel: 202-452-3684) (see I.A. above).

II. How to Make a FOIA Request
A. For information on how to make a FOIA request, visit our web site at www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/request.cfm. The Federal Reserve does not have individual agency components or offices that receive FOIA requests; all requests may be made to Ms. Jennifer J. Johnson, Secretary of the Board, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551 (Tel: 202-452-3259) or electronically at www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/EFOIA/EFOIAForm.cfm.
B. The Board makes every effort to comply with the statutory time period for responding to FOIA requests. Approximately 97 percent of the 386 simple requests processed and approximately 61 percent of the 555 complex requests processed in Fiscal Year 2005 were responded to within the statutory time period.
C. Some FOIA requests are granted in part or not granted because the information requested falls within one of nine FOIA exemptions or certain exclusions. The types of information that the Board most often withheld involved trade secrets and privileged or confidential commercial or financial information (Exemption 4); certain interagency and intra-agency predecisional deliberative communications (Exemption 5); information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (Exemption 6); and examination, operating and condition reports relating to financial institutions (Exemption 8). All information withheld was reviewed for compliance with the requirement in subsection (b) of FOIA to provide all reasonably segregable nonexempt information.

III. Definition of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report
A. Agency-specific acronyms or other terms.
1. Board--Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
2. FOIA--Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552)
3. FY--Fiscal year, which covers the period from October 1 to September 30
4. PA--Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a)
B. Basic terms, expressed in common terminology.
1. FOIA/PA request -- Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act request -- a FOIA request is generally a request for access to records concerning a third party, an organization, or a particular topic of interest. A PA request is a request for records concerning oneself; such requests are also treated as FOIA requests. (All requests for access to records, regardless of which law is cited by the requester, are included in this report).
2. Initial request -- a request to the Board for access to records under the FOIA.
3. Appeal -- a request to the Board asking that it review at a higher administrative level, a full denial or partial denial of access to records under the FOIA, or any other FOIA determination such as a matter pertaining to fees.
4. Processed request or appeal -- a request or appeal for which the Board has taken a final action on the request or the appeal in all respects.
5. Multi-track processing -- a system in which simple requests requiring relatively minimal review are placed in one processing track and more voluminous and complex requests are placed in one or more other tracks. Requests in each track are processed on a first-in/first-out basis. A less complicated complex request, however, may be completed faster than an earlier-received more complex request. A requester who has an urgent need for records may request expedited processing (see III.B.6 below).
6. Expedited processing -- the Board will process a FOIA request on an expedited basis when a requester has shown an exceptional need or urgency for the records which warrants prioritization of his or her request over other requests that were made earlier.
7. Simple request -- a FOIA request that the Board, which uses multi-track processing, places in its fastest (non-expedited) track based on the volume and/or simplicity of records requested.
8. Complex request -- a FOIA request that the Board, which uses multi-track processing, places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested.
9. Grant -- a decision by the Board to disclose all records in full in response to a FOIA request.
10. Partial grant -- a decision by the Board to disclose a record in part in response to a FOIA request, deleting information determined to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions; or a decision to disclose some records in their entirely, but to withhold others in whole or in part.
11. Denial -- A decision by the Board not to release any part of a record or records in response to a FOIA request because all the information in the requested records is determined by the Board to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions, or for some procedural reason (such as because no record is located in response to a FOIA request).
12. Time limits -- the time period in the FOIA for a federal agency, including the Board, to respond to a FOIA request (ordinarily 20 working days from proper receipt of a "perfected" FOIA request (see III.B 13 & 17 below)). Note: the Board's response times in Part VII below are, in accordance with U.S. Department of Justice guidance, expressed in calendar days. The overall working day equivalent can be approximately calculated by multiplying the calendar day total by .7 (thus, 10 calendar days equates to approximately 7 working days, although the precise mix of working and non-working days can vary from request to request on the date of receipt and the proximity to a holiday).
13. "Perfected" request -- a FOIA request for records that adequately describes the records sought, which has been received by the Board, and for which there is no remaining question about the payment of applicable fees.
14. Exemption 3 statute -- a separate federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its withholding under the FOIA subsection (b)(3).
15. Median number -- the middle, not average, number. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.
16. Average number -- the number obtained by dividing the sum of a group of numbers by the quantity of numbers in the group. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.
17. Working days -- days excepting Saturday, Sunday, and legal public holidays. As noted, the Board's response times in Part VII below are expressed in median calendar days, and the number of "working days" would be somewhat less.

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes Relied on by the Board During the Current Fiscal Year

Fed. R.Cr.P. 6(e), Grand Jury Secrecy. Used to withhold records used in Grand Jury proceedings. Upheld: Senate of P.R. v. Dep't of Justice, 823 F.2d 574 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

31 U.S.C. 5319 Bank Secrecy Act Records. Prohibits the disclosure of records required by the Bank Secrecy Act. Generally used to withhold Currency Transaction Reports. Upheld: Small v IRS, 820 F. Supp. 163 (D.N.J 1992)

V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests
A. Numbers of initial requests.
1. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2004: 42 *
2. Number of requests received during FY 2005: 929
3. Number of requests processed during FY 2005: 941
4. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2005: 30 (enter on Line VII.B.1)
B. Disposition of initial requests.
1. Number of total grants: 464
2. Number of partial grants: 113
3. Number of denials: 30
a. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per request)
(1) Exemption 1: 0
(2) Exemption 2: 11
(3) Exemption 3: 4
(4) Exemption 4: 102
(5) Exemption 5: 47
(6) Exemption 6: 44
(7) Exemption 7(A): 5
(8) Exemption 7(B): 0
(9) Exemption 7(C): 1
(10) Exemption 7(D): 0
(11) Exemption 7(E): 1
(12) Exemption 7(F): 0
(13) Exemption 8: 42
(14) Exemption 9: 0
4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 334
a. No records: 196
b. Referrals: 48
c. Request withdrawn: 75
d. Fee-related reason: 2
e. Records not reasonably described: 4
f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 0
g. Not an agency record: 0
h. Duplicate request: 9
i. Other (specify): 0

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests
A. Numbers of appeals.
1. Number of appeals received during FY 2005: 22
2. Number of appeals processed during FY 2005: 23
B. Disposition of appeals.
1. Number completely upheld: 16
2. Number partially reversed: 5
3. Number completely reversed: 0
a. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per appeal):
(1) Exemption 1: 0
(2) Exemption 2: 4
(3) Exemption 3: 1
(4) Exemption 4: 12
(5) Exemption 5: 10
(6) Exemption 6: 4
(7) Exemption 7(A): 2
(8) Exemption 7(B): 0
(9) Exemption 7(C): 0
(10) Exemption 7(D): 0
(11) Exemption 7(E): 1
(12) Exemption 7(F): 0
(13) Exemption 8: 4
(14) Exemption 9: 0
4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 2
a. No records: 0
b. Referrals: 0
c. Request withdrawn: 2
d. Fee-related reason: 0
e. Records not reasonably described: 0
f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 0
g. Not an agency record: 0
h. Duplicate request: 0
i. Other (specify): 0

VII. Compliance with Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests
A. Median processing time for requests processed during FY 2005.
1. Simple requests.
a. Number of requests processed: 386
b. Median number of calendar days to process: 3
2. Complex requests.
a. Number of requests processed: 555
b. Median number of calendar days to process: 27
3. Requests accorded expedited processing.
a. Number of requests processed: 0
b. Median number of calendar days to process: N/A
B. Status of pending requests.
1. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2005: 30 (entered from Line V.A.4.)
2. Median number of calendar days that such requests were pending as of that date: 14.5

VIII. Comparison with Previous Year
 

2004

2005

Change

 

A.

Requests received: 

1,035

929

10% decrease

 

B.

Requests processed: 

1,041

941

10% decrease

 

C.

Median days pending end of FY: 

14

14.5

0%

 

D.

The number of pending requests for FY 2005 has been reduced by 29 percent compared with FY 2004. No requests for expedited processing were received.

 

E.

The Board continues to make an increasing amount of information available through its web site, which in FY 2005 had approximately 108,000 visits to the FOIA page.

IX. Cost/FOIA Staffing
A. Staffing levels.
1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel: 6
2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years): 5.75
3. Total number of personnel (in work-years): 11.75
B. Total costs (including staff and all resources).
1. FOIA processing (including appeals): $945,584.33
2. Litigation-related activities (estimated): $61,521.00
3. Total costs: $1,007,105.33
4. Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change):

2004

2005

Change

A.

FOIA Processing: 

$796,970.53

$945,584.33

18.6% increase

B.

Litigation Related: 

$20,700.00

$61,521.00

197.2% increase

C.

Total Costs: 

$817,670.53

$1,007,105.33

23.2% increase

X. Fees
A. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $24,692.00
B. Percentage of total costs: 2.6 percent (approximate)

XI. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule)
The Board's Rules Regarding Availability of Information, including the fee schedule, can be found at www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/rules.cfm.

Footnote

* In the Annual FOIA Report for Fiscal Year 2004, the number of pending cases was incorrectly calculated. The correct number was 42, rather than 43; one request had been settled in Fiscal Year 2004. Return to text


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