FDIC meets all six FOIA requirements reviewed in study; only one in three agencies to do so (out of 18 total assessed)

All six requirements outlined in two statutes for complying with the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have been fully met by the federal bank deposit insurance agency – one of only three agencies (out of 18) to do so, according to a report issued Monday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) had met the six requirements for compliance with the FOIA, which requires federal agencies to provide the public with access to government records and information based on principles of openness and accountability in government.

According to the report, titled “Freedom of Information Act: Agencies Are Implementing Requirements, but Additional Actions Are Needed,” the FDIC (as well as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID]) are implementing six selected FOIA requirements. Those are:

  1. Updating of response letters;
  2. Implementing tracking systems;
  3. Providing FOIA training;
  4. Providing required records online;
  5. Designating chief FOIA officer at appropriate level;
  6. Updating and publishing timely and comprehensive regulations.

The other 15 agencies in the study, which GAO said it undertook after being asked to review federal agencies’ compliance with FOIA requirements, met at least three of the six requirements. Two of those – the Department of the Interior and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – fully met the first five.

On the other hand, two others (the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the American Battle Monuments Commission) met only four requirements, missing the last two in the list of six.

The remaining agencies met all of the first four requirements and portions of the fifth.

The other agencies studied by the congressional watchdog were:

  • Administrative Conference of the U.S.;
  • Broadcasting Board of Governors;
  • Department of Justice;
  • Department of State;
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARAL);
  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB);
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC);
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA);
  • U.S. African Development Foundation.

The GAO said it selected the 18 agencies based on their size (large, medium, small; FDIC was counted as a “medium-sized” agency) and other factors, as well as assessing their policies against the six FOIA requirements. GAO said it also reviewed the agencies’ backlog reduction plans and developed a catalog of statutes that agencies have used to withhold information.

The GAO said it is making recommendations to 16 agencies to post records online, designate chief FOIA officers, update regulations, and develop plans to reduce backlogs. None of the recommendations were aimed at the FDIC.

Freedom of Information Act: Agencies Are Implementing Requirements, but Additional Actions Are Needed