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National Endowment for the Arts
Freedom of Information Act Guide

Freedom of Information Act Report October 1, 2002 - September 30, 2003

I. Basic information:

  1. Point of Contact:
  2. Kate Reynolds, FOIA Officer
    Office of the General Counsel, Room 518
    National Endowment for the Arts
    1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20506-0001
    Tel: 202-682-5418

  3. Electronic address for report: The FY 2002 FOIA Report for the National Endowment for the Arts will be available under the FOIA section of the Endowment's home page at http://www.arts.gov/about/FOIA/index.html.

  4. Paper copies of report: Paper copies can be requested from the person/address listed above.

II. How to make a FOIA request

  1. Agency components that receive FOIA requests: All FOIA requests should be sent to the National Endowment for the Arts FOIA Officer, Office of the General Counsel, Room 518, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20506-0001. E-mail requests should be sent to foia@arts.endow.gov.

  2. Agency response-time ranges: In 2003, the median number of days taken by the Agency to process different types of requests was 6 days.

  3. Why some requests are not granted: In 2003, the Agency made 32 determinations to deny information under the FOIA. The majority of the denials involved withholding small, segregable portions of the requested records. The reasons for such determinations are categorized by exemption as follows: three (3) denials pursuant to exemption (b)(4), which protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential; two (2) denials pursuant to exemption (b)(5), which protects inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters not available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the National Endowment for the Arts; and twenty-seven (27) denials pursuant to exemption (b)(6), which protects personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. A number of requests implicated multiple exemptions.

III. Definitions of terms and acronyms used in the report (to be included in each report)

  1. Agency-specific acronyms or other terms:

  2. There are no agency-specific terms or acronyms used in this report.

  3. 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 Privacy Act 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 a federal agency for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.

    3. Appeal -- a request to a federal agency asking that it review at a higher administrative level a full denial or partial denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, or any other FOIA determination such as a matter pertaining to fees.

    4. Processed Request or Appeal -- a request or appeal for which an agency 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 requester who has an urgent need for records may request expedited processing (see below).

    6. Expedited processing -- an agency 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 an agency using 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 an agency using multi-track processing places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested.

    9. Grant -- an agency decision to disclose all records in full in response to a FOIA request.

    10. Partial grant -- an agency decision 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 entireties, but to withhold others in whole or in part.

    11. Denial -- an agency decision 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 agency 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 Freedom of Information Act for an agency to respond to a FOIA request (ordinarily 20 working days from proper receipt of a "perfected" FOIA request).

    13. "Perfected" request -- a FOIA request for records which adequately describes the records sought, which has been received by the FOIA office of the agency or agency component in possession of the records, 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 with holding under 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.

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

  1. List of Exemption 3 statutes relied on by agency during current fiscal year:

  2. Exemption b(3) Statutes were not used by the National Endowment of the Arts in FY 2002 FOIA responses.

V. Initial FOIA/PA access requests

  1. Numbers of initial requests:

    1. Number of requests pending as of end of preceding fiscal year: 0
    2. Number of requests received during current fiscal year: 79
    3. Number of requests processed during current fiscal year: 179
    4. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year: 0

  2. Disposition of initial requests:

    1. Number of total grants: 27
    2. Number of partial grants: 37
    3. Number of denials: 1

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

    (1) Exemption 1: 0
    (2) Exemption 2: 0
    (3) Exemption 3: 0
    (4) Exemption 4: 3
    (5) Exemption 5: 2
    (6) Exemption 6: 27
    (7) Exemption 7(A): 0
    (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: 0
    (14) Exemption 9: 0

4. Other reasons for non-disclosure (total): 14

a. no records: 11
b. referrals: 0
c. request withdrawn: 2
d. fee-related reason: 1
e. records not reasonably described
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

VI. Appeals of initial denials of FOIA/PA requests

  1. Numbers of appeals:

    1. Number of appeals received during fiscal year: 1
    2. Number of appeals processed during fiscal year: 1

  2. Disposition of appeals:

  3. 1. Number completely upheld: 0
    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: 0
    (2) Exemption 2: 0
    (3) Exemption 3: 0
    (4) Exemption 4: 0
    (5) Exemption 5: 0
    (6) Exemption 6: 0
    (7) Exemption 7(A): 0
    (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: 0
    (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: 1
    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

  1. Median processing time for requests processed during the year:

    1. Simple requests (if multiple tracks used).

    a. number of requests processed: 79
    b. median number of days to process: 6

    2. Complex requests (specify for any and all tracks used).

    a. number of requests processed: 0
    b. median number of days to process: 0

    3. Requests accorded expedited processing.

    a. number of requests processed: 0
    b. median number of days to process: 0
  2. Status of Pending Requests:

    1. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year: 0
    2. Median number of days that such requests were pending as of that date: 0

VIII. Comparisons with Previous Year(s) (Optional)

A. Comparison of numbers of requests received: FY2002 - 99 / FY2003 - 79

B. Comparison of numbers of requests processed: FY2002 - 100 / FY2003 - 79

C. Comparison of median numbers of days requests were pending as of end of fiscal year: FY2002 - 12.5 days / FY2003 - 6days

D. Other statistics significant to agency: None

E. Other narrative statements describing agency ef forts to improve timeliness of FOIA performance and to make records available to the public (e.g., backlog-reduction efforts; specification of average number of hours per processed request; training activities; public availability of new categories of records)

In 2003, the Endowment continued to make its documents accessible by electronic means. In addition to the documents provided pursuant to FOIA requests, articles and other information on the Arts Endowment and the arts are available on the Internet at the Agency’s website, http://www.arts.gov, which includes an online FOIA guide and serves as the Agency’s online reading room. The availability of substantial information online has drastically reduced the Endowment’s formal caseload, from 697 requests in 1995, prior to the launching of the website, to 79 in the 2003 reporting period. The Endowment views this as a positive demonstration of the effectiveness of our website. The Agency also routinely accepts and responds to requests for information via email. We did not receive any requests for expedited processing and therefore did not grant any.

IX. Costs/FOIA staffing

  1. Staffing levels:

    Number of full-time FOIA personnel: 0
    Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years): .4
    Total number of personnel (in work-years): .4

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

    1. FOIA processing (including appeals): $16,000 (est.)
    2. Litigation-related activities (estimated): not applicable
    3. Total costs: $16,00 (est.)
    4. Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change) (optional): No change

  3. Statement of additional resources needed for FOIA compliance (optional): None

IX. Fee

  1. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $0.00
  2. Percentage of total costs: 0% (Note: the Agency frequently does not assess fees for FOIA requests)

X. FOIA regulations (including fee schedule):

The Arts Endowment's regulation and fee schedule appear at 45 C.F.R. 1100.6. These can be accessed electronically at http://www.arts.gov/about/FOIA/index.html.