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Thursday, March 16, 2006

US award for worst performing government agency

The National Security Archive, a non government institution attached to the George Washington University in the US has awarded the CIA with its 2006 “Rosemary” award for the worst Freedom of Information performance by a Federal agency.

This release provides the details including the CIA’s failure to deal with 40% of the 10 oldest still unanswered requests in the US Federal Government sector. The Archive said that the “oldest requests are so old they are eligible for drivers licenses in most states”.

The US Air Force won last year’s award after it apparently lost (or threw away) dozens of FOI requests dating back 18 years. As a result of a law suit launched by the Archive, the Air Force has since launched a major “FOIA Get Well Program”, hired new senior staff, reached out to requesters and other agencies for best practices and begun to clean up its backlog.

The award is named after Rosemary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary who testified that a backwards-leaning stretch while seated at her desk resulted in the “inadvertent” erasure of eighteen and a half minutes from the audio tape of a key Watergate conversation in the President’s White House office.

Thanks to Steve Wood's UK FOI blog for the lead.

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