Annual Report on the Freedom of Information Act
for Fiscal Year 2007
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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_2007.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 99 percent of the 353 simple requests processed and approximately 83 percent of the 464 complex requests processed in Fiscal Year 2007 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); and information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (Exemption 6). 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 FOIA exemptions; or a decision to disclose some records in their entirety, 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 record or records is determined by the Board to be exempt under one or more FOIA 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. IV. Exemption 3 Statutes Relied on by the Board During the Current Fiscal Year
31 U.S.C. §5218(g)(3), the Bank Secrecy Act. Information withheld under the Bank Secrecy Act statute would include Currency Transaction Reports, Foreign Bank Account Reports, Currency and Monetary Instrument Reports, Suspicious Activity Reports, and Registration of Money Services Businesses.
V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests
A. Numbers of initial requests.
1. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2006: 9
2. Number of requests received during FY 2007: 813
3. Number of requests processed during FY 2007: 817
4. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2007: 5 (enter on Line VII.B.1)
B. Disposition of initial requests.
1. Number of total grants: 529
2. Number of partial grants: 82
3. Number of denials: 11
a. 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: 54
(5) Exemption 5: 23
(6) Exemption 6: 28
(7) Exemption 7(A): 1
(8) Exemption 7(B): 0
(9) Exemption 7(C): 1
(10) Exemption 7(D): 0
(11) Exemption 7(E): 0
(12) Exemption 7(F): 0
(13) Exemption 8: 12
(14) Exemption 9: 0
4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 195
a. No records: 56
b. Referrals: 23
c. Request withdrawn: 91
d. Fee-related reason: 3
e. Records not reasonably described: 14
f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 4
g. Not an agency record: 0
h. Duplicate request: 4
i. Other (specify): 0
VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests
A. Numbers of appeals.
1. Number of appeals received during FY 2007: 8
2. Number of appeals processed during FY 2007: 8
B. Disposition of appeals.
1. Number completely upheld: 7
2. Number partially reversed: 0
3. Number completely reversed: 0
a. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per appeal):
(1) Exemption 1: 1
(2) Exemption 2: 2
(3) Exemption 3: 2
(4) Exemption 4: 6
(5) Exemption 5: 4
(6) Exemption 6: 5
(7) Exemption 7(A): 1
(8) Exemption 7(B): 0
(9) Exemption 7(C): 2
(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): 1
a. No records: 0
b. Referrals: 0
c. Request withdrawn: 0
d. Fee-related reason: 0
e. Records not reasonably described: 0
f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 1
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 2007.
1. Simple requests.
a. Number of requests processed: 353
b. Median number of calendar days to process: 1
2. Complex requests.
a. Number of requests processed: 464
b. Median number of calendar days to process: 14
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 2007: 5 (entered from Line V.A.4.)
2. Median number of calendar days that such requests were pending as of that date: 3
VIII. Comparison with Previous Year
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
3. Total number of personnel (in work-years): 11
B. Total costs (including staff and all resources).
1. FOIA processing (including appeals): $1,060,832.00
2. Litigation-related activities (estimated): $14,550.00
3. Total costs: $1,075,382.00
4. Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change):
A. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $17,834.00
B. Percentage of total costs: 1.7 percent (approximate)
XI. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule)
XII. Report on FOIA Executive Order Implementation
A. Description of supplementation/modification of agency improvement plan (if applicable) N/A
B. Report on agency implementation of its plan, including its performance in meeting milestones, with respect to each improvement area
The Board has met all milestones set forth in its Plan to Improve FOIA Operations, as detailed below. Many scheduled improvements and milestones were implemented ahead of their scheduled completion time. In addition, the Board completely eliminated its existing FOIA backlog by the end of the 2007 FOIA year (September 30, 2007).
Planned Improvements by Time Periods for Completion
Areas Anticipated to be completed by June 2007
1.Increase Administrative Efficiency of the Board's FOIA Program
Commencing in May 2007, the Board's FOIA staff implemented a pilot program for electronic review and redaction of responsive FOIA records. All FOIA staff have access to scanners to convert paper records into portable document format (PDF) and two separate on-line redaction tools. Currently, the majority of the Board's responsive records are electronically redacted, and whenever possible, the documents are sent to the requester by e-mail.
2.Improve Staff Education, Training, and Communication
In June 2007, a notice reminding staff of their obligations under the FOIA was posted on the Board's internal website. The notice provides an overview of the FOIA, highlights the steps Board staff should take when fielding requests for information from the public and their responsibilities when they receive a FOIA assignment, and includes a link to the Board's FOIA web page. The notice also includes contact information for all Board FOIA staff and a link to FOIA Frequently Asked Questions.
By June, 2007, the Board had developed a comprehensive Board-specific training program for use by all personnel who routinely process FOIA requests and other personnel who are likely to become involved in processing FOIA requests.
Areas Anticipated to be completed by December 2007
1.Reduce or Eliminate Existing Backlogs; Minimize Future Backlogs
As of September 30, 2007, the Board had eliminated the FOIA backlog. The Board has evaluated the reasons for recurring delays and taken appropriate steps to eliminate systemic reasons for delays and to minimize one-off causes for delay.
2.Enhance Communication with Requesters
In December 2007, a status inquiry/feedback form was added to the FOIA Requester Service Center web page.
3.Increase Administrative Efficiency of the Board's FOIA Program
In April, 2007, the Board upgraded its FOI/PA tracking system by purchasing a new electronic tracking system. The new system was implemented beginning in August 2007. The addition of the new FOI/PA tracking software and the use of on-line redaction have improved FOIA processing by helping to minimize processing times.
4.Improve Staff Education, Training, and Communication
The Board developed an on-line, Board-specific training program for use by all personnel who routinely process FOIA requests and other personnel who are likely to become involved in processing FOIA requests. This program was implemented and made available on-line to staff in early December 2007. Contact information for all Board FOIA staff and a notice to Board staff reminding them of their obligations under the FOIA is posted on the Board's internal website. The Board's FOIA Public Liaison conducted several FOIA training sessions for staff involved in diverse aspects of the Board's FOIA program and plans to continue to conduct such sessions in 2008.
5.Improve the Board's FOIA Webpage
In November 2007, the Board's FOIA electronic reading room was supplemented with links to Statistical Releases and Historical Data, Reports to Congress and Staff Working Papers.
C. Identification and discussion of any deficiency in meeting plan milestones (if applicable) N/A
D. Additional narrative statement regarding other executive order-related activities
Senior Board Staff, responsible for FOIA matters, including the Board's Public Liaison and the Board's FOIA Service Center Manager have attended a series of conferences and training sessions sponsored by the Department of Justice concerning implementation and compliance with the directives set forth in the Executive Order and recommended in the Attorney's General's Report, dated June 1, 2007. The training sessions included a follow-up seminar for FOIA Public Liaisons and a seminar on FOIA Website improvement. Board staff also attended a follow-up meeting of the Inter-agency Working Group on Technology.
E. Concise descriptions of FOIA exemptions
The nine exemptions to the FOIA authorize federal agencies to withhold information covering: (1) classified national defense and foreign relations information; (2) internal agency rules and practices; (3) information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law; (4) trade secrets and other confidential business information; (5) inter-agency or intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges; (6) information involving matters of personal privacy; (7) records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, to the extent that the production of those records (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual; (8) information relating to the supervision of financial institutions; and (9) geological information on wells.
F. Additional statistics:
a.)Number of Consultations Received. Processed, and Pending
b.)Ten Oldest Pending Consultations Received From Other Agencies as of January 1, 2008
The Federal Reserve Board has no consultations pending from other agencies.
G. Attachment: Agency improvement plan (in current form)
http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/foiaoperations.pdf (514 KB PDF)
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Last update: January 31, 2007