Annual Report on the Freedom of Information Act
for Fiscal Year 2000

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
February 1, 2001


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

  1. 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; FAX: 202-872-7565.

  2. Electronic address for this report on the Board's World Wide Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/anrpt_2000.htm.

  3. 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

  1. The Board's Guide to Requesting Records or Information provides information on the Board's duties, sources of records and information, a description of the types of documents maintained by the Freedom of Information Office, and a brief description of how to make a FOIA request. The Federal Reserve does not have individual agency components or offices that receive FOIA requests; all requests may be made in writing 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 http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/EFOIA/EFOIAForm.cfm. The Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco also provide certain public information and public portions of applications filed with a particular Reserve Bank.

  2. The Board makes every effort to comply with the statutory time period for responding to FOIA requests. Approximately 94 percent of the 1,411 simple requests processed and approximately 66 percent of the 526 complex requests processed in fiscal year 2000 were responded to within the statutory time period.

  3. 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 release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of third parties (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 and with policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

III. Definition of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report

  1. 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)

  2. 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. Multitrack 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 that warrants prioritization of his or her request over other requests that were made earlier. The Board also has a policy of processing requests for the public portion of an application filed under its Regulation Y (12 CFR 225) within three business days of receiving the request. These requests are classified as simple requests (see III.B.7 below) on the Board's tracking systems.

    7. Simple request--a FOIA request that the Board, which uses multitrack processing, places in its fastest (non-expedited) track based on the volume and/or simplicity of records requested. A simple request usually involves records that are readily identifiable by the Board's Freedom of Information Office and that have been cleared previously for public release.

    8. Complex request--a FOIA request that the Board, which uses multitrack processing, places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested. A complex request is a request that does not qualify as simple request and is processed under the Board's normal procedures, unless the request has been accorded expedited processing.

    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 that 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 twenty working days from proper receipt of a "perfected" FOIA request (see III.B 13 and 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 0.7 (thus, ten calendar days equate to approximately seven working days, although the precise mix of working and nonworking 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

During FY 2000, the Board partially denied the disclosure of records under Exemption 3 (5 U.S.C. 552 (b)(3)) on one occasion because the material consisted of grand jury information that the Board is prohibited from releasing under Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The denial under Exemption (b)(3) has not been challenged in court.

V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests

  1. Numbers of initial requests.

    1. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 1999: 120

    2. Number of requests received during FY 2000: 1,882

    3. Number of requests processed during FY 2000: 1,937

    4. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2000: 65

  2. Disposition of initial requests.

    1. Number of total grants: 1,408

    2. Number of partial grants: 192

    3. Number of denials: 301

      1. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per request)

        (1) Exemption 1: 0

        (2) Exemption 2: 2

        (3) Exemption 3: 1

        (4) Exemption 4: 141

        (5) Exemption 5: 74

        (6) Exemption 6: 67

        (7) Exemption 7(A): 5

        (8) Exemption 7(B): 0

        (9) Exemption 7(C): 3

        (10) Exemption 7(D): 1

        (11) Exemption 7(E): 1

        (12) Exemption 7(F): 0

        (13) Exemption 8: 62

        (14) Exemption 9: 0

    4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 344

      1. No records: 124 [102]2

      2. Referrals: 70 [64]

      3. Request withdrawn: 90 [90]

      4. Fee-related reason: 5 [5]

      5. Records not reasonably described: 6 [1]

      6. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 7 [6]

      7. Not an agency record: 3 [0]

      8. Duplicate request: 38 [38]

      9. Other (specify): 1 [1]3

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

  1. Numbers of appeals.

    1. Number of appeals received during FY 2000: 41

    2. Number of appeals processed during FY 2000: 334

  2. Disposition of appeals.

    1. Number completely upheld: 29

    2. Number partially reversed: 4

    3. Number completely reversed: 0

      a. Number of time each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per appeal):

        (1) Exemption 1: 0

        (2) Exemption 2: 1

        (3) Exemption 3: 0

        (4) Exemption 4: 21

        (5) Exemption 5: 10

        (6) Exemption 6: 5

        (7) Exemption 7(A): 1

        (8) Exemption 7(B): 0

        (9) Exemption 7(C): 0

        (10) Exemption 7(D): 0

        (11) Exemption 7(E): 0

        (12) Exemption 7(F): 0

        (13) Exemption 8: 8

        (14) Exemption 9: 0

    4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 3

        a. No records: 0

        b. Referrals: 0

        c. Request withdrawn: 0

        d. Fee-related reason: 0

        e. Records not reasonably described: 1

        f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 0

        g. Not an agency record: 2

        h. Duplicate request: 0

        i. Other (specify): 0

VII. Compliance with Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests

  1. Median processing time for requests processed during FY 2000.

    1. Simple requests.

      1. Number of requests processed: 1,411

      2. Median number of calendar days to process: 2

    2. Complex requests.

      1. Number of requests processed: 526

      2. Median number of calendar days to process: 27

    3. Requests accorded expedited processing.

      1. Number of requests processed: 2

      2. Median number of calendar days to process: 6.5

  2. Status of pending requests.

    1. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2000: 65

    2. Median number of calendar days that such requests were pending as of that date: 12

VIII. Comparison with Previous Year
  1999 2000 Change
  A. Requests received: 2,112 1,882 11% decrease
 
  B. Requests processed: 2,160 1,937 10% decrease
 
  C. Median days pending end of FY: 42 12 71% decrease
 
  D. The number of pending requests for FY 2000 has been reduced by 46 percent compared with FY 1999.
 
  E. The Board continues its efforts to improve the timeliness of FOIA responses and access to the FOIA process by members of the public. Although the percentage of timely responses to simple requests decreased somewhat, the median number of days to process these requests was reduced by one day. Moreover, timely responses to complex requests increased by 10 percent, and the median number of days to process these requests was reduced by thirteen days. The median number of days to process requests pending from the previous year was reduced by thirty days, and the number of pending requests was reduced by 46 percent. The Board also completely refashioned its FOIA Web site in July 2000. In addition to making the FOIA process more accessible to members of the public, the revisions feature an electronic form for making FOIA requests and an expanded electronic reading room.

IX. Cost/FOIA Staffing

  1. Staffing levels.

    1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel: 7

    2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years): 4.98

    3. Total number of personnel (in work-years): 11.98

  2. Total costs (including staff and all resources).

    1. FOIA processing (including appeals): $817,062.87

    2. Litigation-related activities (estimated): $42,000.00

    3. Total costs: $859,061.87

    4. Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change):

          1999  2000  Change 
      A. FOIA Processing:      $875,889.00  $817,061.87  6.7% decrease
       
      B. Litigation Related: $80,000.00 $42,000.00 48% decrease
       
      C. Total Costs: $955,889.00 $859,061.87 10% decrease

  3. Statement of additional resources needed for FOIA compliance (optional):

    This information will be provided in future reports, as appropriate.

X. Fees

  1. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $27,910.29

  2. Percentage of total costs: 3.3 percent (approximate)

XI. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule)

The Board's Rules Regarding Availability of Information, including the fee schedule, are codified at 12 CFR Part 261.


Footnotes

1. Records were withheld in these requests under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions. In an additional 307 requests, no records were disclosed for other reasons enumerated in item V.B.4. See footnote 2. Return to text

2. Brackets indicate the number of requests in which the reason designated under item V.B.4 was the only reason for nondisclosure. These numbers are used to calculate the additional requests discussed in footnote 1. Return to text

3. This request was administratively closed after the requester failed to provide a mailing address for receipt of responsive records. Return to text

4. Four additional requests were initially received as appeals but were not processed because they raised matters that were not ripe for appeal. These requests were administratively closed after the requester was informed of the deficiency and did not respond. Return to text


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Last update: June 28, 2001