Skip to page content
Office of the Solicitor

U.S. Department of Labor Freedom of Information Act Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2006

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT ANNUAL REPORT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 [1]

October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006

The Department received a total of 23,157 initial requests for records during fiscal year 2006.

  1. Basic Information Regarding Report

  1. For questions concerning this report, please contact Joseph J. Plick, Counsel for FOIA/FACA/Privacy Act, Office of the Solicitor, Room N-2428, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, telephone number (202) 693-5527.

  2. The electronic address for this report is on the World Wide Web at http://www.dol.gov/dol/foia/main.htm.

  3. You may obtain a paper copy of this report by writing to Mr. Plick at the above address.

  1. How to Make a FOIA Request

The Department of Labor is organized into divisions and agencies often referred to as "components." Within the Labor Department, each component processes its own FOIA requests. Therefore, a request will receive the fastest possible response if it is addressed directly to the disclosure officer for the component that a requester believes has the records.

Requesters who cannot determine the proper disclosure officer to which the request should be addressed may direct the request to the Counsel for FOIA, Office of the Solicitor, Division of Management and Administrative Legal Services, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N-2428, Washington, D.C. 20210 or by e-mail to foiarequest@dol.gov. (Prior to amendments to the Department's FOIA regulation effective June 30, 2006 requesters were directed to the Office of Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-5526, Washington, D.C. 20210.)

  1. The following list contains the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the individual agency components and offices in the national and regional offices of the Department of Labor. The heads of each component shall make available for inspection and copying, in accordance with the provisions of the FOIA, records in their custody or in the custody of component units within their organizations, either directly or through their authorized representative in particular offices and locations. Unless otherwise specified, the mailing address for the following national office components is as follows:

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room SL-33
Washington, DC 20210

  1. Office of the Secretary of Labor, (202) 693-7277.

  2. Office of the Solicitor of Labor, (202) 693-5527.

  3. Office of the Administrative Law Judges, 800 K Street, N.W., Suite N-400, Washington, D.C.20001-8002, (202) 693-7440.

  4. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, (202) 693-7277.

  5. Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, (202) 693-4630.

  6. Office of the Inspector General, (202) 693-5113.

  7. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, (202) 693-5925.

  8. Office of Public Affairs, (202) 693-4654.

  9. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, (202) 693-4770.

  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postal Square Building, Room 4040, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20212-0001, (202) 691-7628.

  11. Employment Standards Administration, (202) 693-0256.

  12. Employment and Training Administration, (202) 693-3140.

  13. Mine Safety and Health Administration, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, 21st Floor, Arlington, Virginia 22209, (202) 693-9424.

  14. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (202) 693-1897.

  15. Office of Disability Employment Policy, (202) 693-4930.

  16. Employee Benefits Security Administration, formerly known as the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, (202) 693-8655.

  17. Office of the Chief Financial Officer, (202) 693-6806.

  18. Veterans' Employment and Training, (202) 693-4745.

  19. Employees' Compensation Appeals Board, (202) 693-5028.

  20. Office of Adjudicatory Services, (202) 693-5028.

  21. Benefits Review Board, (202) 693-5028.

  22. Office of Small Business Programs, (202) 693-6475.

  23. Women's Bureau, (202) 693-6735.

The addresses and telephone numbers for the various regional offices are presented below. The telephone number which is listed is for the Department's Office of Administration and Management (OASAM) for that region. That office can provide the requester with a more specific telephone number for the respective component. Unless otherwise specified, the mailing address for these regional offices shall be:

Region I:

U.S. Department of Labor
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
One Congress Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02203
(617) 565-1991

(For Employment Standards Administration (ESA), Wage and Hour Division only: Contact Region III)

Region II:

U.S. Department of Labor
201 Varick Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 337-2215

(For Wage and Hour Division only: Contact Region III)

Region III:

U.S. Department of Labor
The Curtis Center, Suite 600 East
170 S. Independence Mall West
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-3305
(215) 861-5030

Region IV:

U.S. Department of Labor
Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 562-2018

(For ESA, Office of Workers' Compensation (OWCP) Only)

U.S. Department of Labor
214 N. Hogan Street, Suite 1006
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
(904) 357-4725

Region V:

U.S. Department of Labor
Kluczynski Federal Building
230 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312) 353-8373

(For OWCP, Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) only)

U.S. Department of Labor
1240 East Ninth Street, Room 851
Cleveland, Ohio 44199
(216) 357-5372

Region VI:

U.S. Department of Labor
525 Griffin Square Building
Griffin & Young Streets
Dallas, Texas 75202
(214) 767-6800

Region VII:

U.S. Department of Labor
City Center Square Building
1100 Main Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64105-2112
(816) 426-3891

(For Wage and Hour Division only: Contact Region V)

(For ESA, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) only)

U.S. Department of Labor
1100 Main Street, Suite 860
Kansas City, Missouri 64105
(816) 502-0370

Region VIII:

U.S. Department of Labor
1999 Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80202
(303) 844-1700

(For Wage and Hour Division and OFCCP: Contact Region VI)

(For OWCP only)

U.S. Department of Labor
1999 Broadway, Suite 600
Denver, Colorado 80201
(720) 264-3038

The mailing address for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Director of the Regional Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training in Region VIII is:

Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training
U.S. Custom House
721 - 19th Street, Room 465
Denver, Colorado 80202
(303) 844-4791

Region IX:

U.S. Department of Labor
71 Stevenson Street
San Francisco, California 94105
(415) 975-4057

Region X:

U.S. Department of Labor
1111 Third Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98101-3212
(415) 975-4057

(For Wage and Hour Division: Contact San Francisco)

  1. Agency response-time.

The agency's response-time ranges generally from five to fifty days. Complex requests usually take more time.

  1. Why some requests are not granted.

A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. This does not mean, however, that the Labor Department will disclose every record sought. There are statutory exemptions that authorize the withholding of certain information. In addition, the agency cannot comply with a FOIA request if there are no responsive records.

Another reason for not granting a FOIA request is that the FOIA does not require agencies to do research for the requester, to analyze data, to answer questions, or to create records in order to respond to a FOIA request.

  1. Definitions of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report (To be included in each report)

  1. Agency-specific acronyms or other terms.

ADJ BDS

Adjudicatory Boards (ARB, BRB, ECAB)

ALJ

Administrative Law Judges

ASP

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy

OPA

Office of Public Affairs

CFO

Office of the Chief Financial Officer

EBSA

Employee Benefits Security Administration

ESA

Employment Standards Administration

ETA

Employment and Training Administration

ILAB

Bureau of International Labor Affairs

BLS

Bureau of Labor Statistics

MSHA

Mine Safety and Health Administration

OSHA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OASAM

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management

OCIA

Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs

ODEP

Office of Disability Employment Policy

OIG

Office of the Inspector General

OSBP

Office of Small Business Programs

SOL

Office of the Solicitor

VETS

Veterans' Employment and Training Service

WB

Women's Bureau

  1. 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/Privacy 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/Privacy 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 initial request or the appeal in all respects.

  5. Multi-track processing - a system in which simple requests requiring relatively minimal search and 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 giving priority to his or her request over other requests that were made earlier.

  7. Simple request - a FOIA request that an agency using multi-tracking processing places in its fastest (non expedited) track based on the volume and/or simplicity of the search and review of the 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 the search and review of the 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 record 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. A 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 withholding under 5 U.S.C. § 552(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 is 8.

  1. Exemption 3 Statutes

  1. List of Exemption 3 statutes relied on by this agency during fiscal year 2006.

  1. The Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employment Standards Administration, invoked section 304(a) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) (29 U.S.C. § 464(a)) to protect the identity of a complainant in a union trusteeship investigation.

  2. The Mine Safety and Health Administration withheld the name of a person who requested a safety inspection pursuant to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, section 103(g)(1) (30 U.S.C. § 813(g)(1)). This statute was cited on six occasions.

  3. The Office of the Inspector General withheld grand jury information pursuant to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

  4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics withheld confidential data pursuant to the authority of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA)(44 U.S.C. § 3541). This statute prohibits federal agencies from releasing in identifiable form information acquired under a pledge of confidentiality for exclusively statistical purposes.

  5. The Employment and Training Administration withheld confidential business data pursuant to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, sec. 90.33 (18 U.S.C. § 1905). This statute prohibits federal agencies from disclosing any confidential business information such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information, which is obtained from a person as part of an investigation.

  1. The use of Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure was upheld by a court in the case of Senate of Puerto Rico v. United States Department of Justice, 823 F.2d 574 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The use of the other statutes, cited above, has not been litigated.

  1. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests

  1. Number of Initial Requests.

 

Number of Requests Pending as of End of Proceeding Year

Number of Requests Received in Current Year

Number of Requests Processed in Current Year

Number of Requests Pending as of End of Current Year

OSHA

253

11,010

10,886

377

ESA

133

7755

7704

184

MSHA

47

1193

1151

89

EBSA

76

1946

1961

61

ETA

239

472

597

114

OASAM

10

237

205

42

ALJ

0

145

136

9

VETS

5

94

97

2

OIG

11

91

94

8

BLS

5

70

72

3

Adj Bds

0

42

37

5

WB

0

20

16

4

ODEP

0

12

12

0

ASP

1

21

22

0

OCIA

0

2

2

0

ILAB

0

19

17

2

CFO

0

19

19

0

OPA

0

8

8

0

OSBP

0

15

15

0

SOL

0

23

17

6

Totals

780

23,194

23,068

906

  1. Disposition of Initial Requests.

 

Number of Total Grants

Number of Partial Grants

Number of Denials

Other Reasons for Nondisclosure (Subtotal) [2]

OSHA

695

5913

794

3484

ESA

5851

329

743

781

MSHA

508

427

51

165

EBSA

1547

78

62

274

ETA

200

85

97

215

OASAM

68

39

42

56

ALJ

94

16

2

24

OIG

14

8

43

29

BLS

14

5

32

21

VETS

20

51

13

13

Adj Bds

20

0

0

17

ASP

1

0

0

21

WB

0

0

0

16

ODEP

5

0

0

7

OCIA

0

2

0

0

ILAB

4

0

0

13

CFO

2

0

0

17

OPA

0

0

0

8

OSBP

2

0

0

13

SOL

1

1

1

14

TOTALS [3]

9046

6954

1880

5188

  1. Exemptions Claims Under the Freedom of Information Act; Each Exemption is Counted Only Once Per Request.

 

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)(A)

(7)(B)

(7)(C)

(7)(D)

(7)(E)

(7)(F)

(8)

(9)

TOTAL

OSHA

0

727

0

3,684

4,238

1,638

1,401

101

4,183

2,726

530

0

1

24

19,253

ESA

0

179

3

407

778

129

166

1

848

410

235

0

0

9

3,165

MSHA

0

7

6

7

138

248

99

0

79

82

0

0

0

0

666

EBSA

0

14

0

19

22

45

30

1

35

4

35

1

0

0

206

ETA

0

1

4

66

6

37

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

116

OASAM

0

3

0

20

6

37

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

67

ALJ

0

0

0

1

0

17

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

18

OIG

0

13

6

5

10

31

2

0

28

4

5

0

0

0

104

BLS

0

1

9

9

1

10

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

30

VETS

0

1

0

2

39

33

1

0

33

18

0

0

0

0

127

Adj Bds

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ASP

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

WB

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ODEP

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OCIA

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

ILAB

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CFO

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OPA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OSBP

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

SOL

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

TOTALS

0

946

28

4,220

5,240

2,228

1,701

103

5,206

3,244

805

1

1

34

23,757

  1. Other Reasons for Nondisclosure

 

This column totals up all of the numbers set forth to the right [4]

No Records

Referrals

Request Withdrawn

Fee Related Reason

Records Not Reasonably Described

Not a Proper FOIA Request

Not an Agency Record

Duplicate Request

Other (specify) **

OSHA

3,484

2,377

614

110

74

91

9

33

176

0

ESA

781

470

48

35

16

6

20

52

82

52

MSHA

165

97

3

16

4

1

8

4

18

14

EBSA

274

73

5

55

0

69

4

2

16

50

ETA

215

84

12

3

31

4

2

13

22

44

OASAM

56

15

12

14

0

1

0

9

5

0

ALJ

24

11

3

0

0

0

1

3

4

2

OIG

29

19

4

2

1

1

0

0

0

2

BLS

21

11

4

3

0

2

1

0

0

0

VETS

13

1

3

1

2

0

2

0

2

2

Adj Bds

17

12

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

3

ASP

21

16

2

1

0

0

0

2

0

0

WB

16

13

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

ODEP

7

6

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

OCIA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ILAB

13

9

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

CFO

17

14

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

OPA

8

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OSBP

13

13

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

SOL

14

11

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

TOTALS

5188

3260

715

243

128

175

50

120

326

171

** Explanation of Disposition of FOIA/PA Initial Requests: Other Reasons for Nondisclosure (Column Marked "Other")

 

Number of Times

Reason(s)

ESA

52

Closed administratively

EBSA

50

Closed administratively

ETA

44

Closed administratively

MSHA

14

Closed administratively

Adj Bds

3

Closed administratively

ILAB

2

Closed administratively

VETS

2

Closed administratively

ALJ

2

Closed administratively

OIG

2

Closed administratively

  1. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

  1. Numbers of appeals.

  1. Number of appeals received during fiscal year 2006: 336

  2. Number of appeals processed during fiscal year 2006: 303

  1. Disposition of appeals.

  1. Number completely upheld: 42

  2. Number partially reversed: 95

  3. Number completely reversed: 18

  1. number of times each FOIA exemption was used (counting each exemption once per appeal, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b))

(1) Exemption 1: 0
(2) Exemption 2: 8
(3) Exemption 3: 1
(4) Exemption 4: 30
(5) Exemption 5: 61
(6) Exemption 6: 16
(7) Exemption 7(A): 16
(8) Exemption 7(B): 0
(9) Exemption 7(C): 99
(10) Exemption 7(D): 49
(11) Exemption 7(E): 4
(12) Exemption 7(F): 0
(13) Exemption 8: 0
(14) Exemption 9: 0

  1. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 148

  1. no records: 8

  2. referrals: 15

  3. appeal withdrawn: 25

  4. fee-related reason: 1

  5. records not reasonably described: 1

  6. not a proper FOIA appeal for some other reason: 3

  7. not an agency record: 0

  8. duplicate request: 2

  9. other (specify): closed administratively: 93

  1. Compliance With Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests

  1. Median Processing Time For Requests Processed During The Year.

 

Simple Requests

Complex Requests

Requests For Expedited Processing

Number of Requests Processed

Median Number of Days to Process

Number of Requests Processed

Median Number of Days to Process

Number of Expedited Requests Granted

Median Number of Days to Process

OSHA

7757

10

3049

21

80

15

ESA

6670

15

1023

44

11

8

MSHA

0

0

1148

15

3

14

EBSA

607

5

1352

12.5

2

2

ETA

308

15

280

28

9

19

OASAM

205

22

0

0

0

0

ALJ

131

3

4

4

1

6

VETS

81

10

14

25

2

10

OIG

66

28

28

57

0

0

BLS

72

15

0

0

0

0

Adj Bds

37

7

0

0

0

0

WB

7

17

9

27

0

0

ODEP

8

10

0

0

4

3

ASP

21

10

0

0

1

5

OCIA

2

10

0

0

0

0

ILAB

1

9

16

18

0

0

CFO

0

0

19

13

0

0

OPA

8

7

0

0

0

0

OSBP

15

30

0

0

0

0

SOL

13

16

4

30

0

0

TOTALS

16,009

 

6,946

 

113

 

  1. Status of Pending Requests.

 

Number of Requests Pending as of the end of the Fiscal Year

Median Number of Days Pending

OSHA

377

29

ESA

184

39

MSHA

89

29

EBSA

61

13

ETA

114

48

OASAM

42

68

ALJ

9

51

VETS

2

8

OIG

8

53

BLS

3

5

Adj Bds

5

88

WB

4

15

ODEP

0

19

ASP

0

0

OCIA

0

0

ILAB

2

9

CFO

0

0

OPA

0

0

OSBP

0

0

SOL

6

27

TOTALS

906

 

  1. Comparisons with Previous Year (s)

  1. Comparison of number of requests received: 2006 (23,194); 2005 (23,505); 2004 (21,833)

  2. Comparison of number of requests processed: 2006 (23,068); 2005 (23,284); 2004 (21,860)

  3. Comparison of number of requests pending: 2006 (906); 2005 (780); 2004 (559)

  1. FOIA Staffing and Costs

 

Staffing Levels

Total Costs
(Including Staff and all Resources)

Number of Full Time Personnel

Number of Personnel With Part Time FOIA Duties (In Total Work-Years)

Total Number of Personnel (In Work-Years)

FOIA Processing (Including Appeals) (Estimated)

Litigation Related Activities (Estimated)

Total

OSHA

10

61

71

$6,248,000

$0

$6,248,000

ESA

14

37.7

51.7

4,549,600

0

4,549,600

MSHA

1

19

20

1,760,000

0

1,760,000

EBSA

4

4.5

8.5

748,000

0

748,000

ETA

0

6.4

6.4

563,200

0

563,200

OASAM

1

1.7

2.7

237,600

0

237,600

ALJ

0

2.1

2.1

184,800

0

184,800

VETS

0

1

1

88,000

0

88,000

OIG

1

0

1

88,000

0

88,000

BLS

0

.8

.8

70,400

0

70,400

Adj Bds

0

.7

.7

61,600

0

61,600

WB

0

.3

.3

26,400

0

26,400

ODEP

0

.3

.3

26,400

0

26,400

ASP

0

.5

.5

44,000

0

44,000

OCIA

0

.1

.1

8,800

0

8,800

ILAB

0

.3

.3

26,400

0

26,400

CFO

0

.2

.2

17,600

0

17,600

OPA

0

.1

.1

8,800

0

8,800

OSBP

0

.2

.2

17,600

0

17,600

SOL

4

7.5

11.5

1,012,000

168,000

1,180,000

TOTALS

35

144.4

179.4

15,787,200

168,000

15,955,200

  1. Fees

  1. Total Amount of Fees Collected By Agency For Processing Requests.

The Department collected $ 316,404.27 in fees.

  1. PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL COSTS: 1.98 %

  1. FOIA Regulations (Including Fee Schedule).

The electronic address for accessing the Department's FOIA regulations, 29 C.F.R Part 70, is on the Department's web site at http://www.dol.gov/dol/foia/main.htm.htm. In addition, they can be accessed on the World Wide Web at GPO Access, a service of the U.S. Government Printing Office, at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

  1. Report on FOIA Executive Order Implementation

  1. Description of supplementation/modification of agency improvement plan.

The Department of Labor issued a plan modification on December 8, 2006. The modification was made as a result of the Department's continued assessment of the plan, as well as in response to useful input provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO). The objective of the modification is to set specific outcome oriented goals to reduce any backlogs in responding to initial requests, and to provide timetables for the achievement of these goals. This will be accomplished by having agencies identify their oldest pending requests, and setting percentage targets for the reduction of these requests. In addition, agencies are being asked to develop ongoing monitoring systems with an "early alert" system for any growing backlogs.

  1. Report on agency implementation of the plan, including its performance in meeting milestones, with respect to each improvement plan.

The Department reached all milestones for all seven major areas contained in its plan.

  1. Improve communication with requesters.

This objective consisted of two specific milestones. First, the Department committed to focus on its outreach to the requester community and to solicit suggestions from the public on its FOIA processes. On December 18, 2006, the Department held a FOIA Requester Public Forum. The Department provided extensive advance publicity for this event, through a Federal Register notice, a press release, and prominent placement on its Web site. The Department's Chief FOIA Officer and its Public Liaison served as moderators for the meeting. The program consisted of presentations by a panel of the Department's legal and program experts on FOIA. This was followed by an open microphone session wherein members of the public raised questions and made suggestions to the Department panelists about the Department's FOIA process. The Department is still accepting written input for the meeting, and is studying ways for continued dialogue with its requester community. During 2007, the Department will assess the feasibility and benefits of an electronic suggestion box.

Second, the Chief FOIA Officer has prepared and distributed a template acknowledgement letter to agency FOIA coordinators for use by departmental Disclosure Officers.

  1. Increase Web Presence and Proactive Disclosure

To increase its web presence and proactive disclosure, the Department evaluated the Department and agency FOIA Web sites, developed a plan for improving the agencies' required affirmative disclosure of information and developed a plan for disclosing classes of documents proactively.

The Department's Chief FOIA Officer held several meetings with the Office of Public Affairs web content team to evaluate the Department's FOIA web presence and the web presence of individual agencies. Other areas needing improvement were also identified, including format changes for enhanced readability and navigation. These meetings will continue on a regular basis.

To help assess the progress of the Department's Plan implementation, the Chief FOIA Officer surveyed the agencies on their disclosure measures, electronic FOIA processing, including the use of multi-track or expedited systems, backlog reduction efforts and FOIA staff training.

Department agencies established processes to systematically review the documents which are required by the FOIA and other laws, policies and regulations to be made publicly available to ensure their accuracy and relevance. Several types of information are available for public review on the Department's Web site, including:

  • Records posted after an agency receives three or more requests for the same material ("hot FOIA requests")

  • Contract awards

  • Job vacancy announcements

  • Adjudicatory Board decisions

  • OIG final audit reports and semi-annual reports to Congress

  • MSHA accident investigation reports

  • Enforcement data from agencies with oversight responsibility.

However, the Department has several categories of publicly available records that, due to the volume of documents involved, it is unable to put on the Web site. The EBSA, for example, is seeking to provide online access to ERISA required Form 5500 filings through the next development phase of the ERISA Filing Acceptance System (E-FAST). In these instances, the Department will post additional material to the Web site as improved technology becomes available.

The Department also developed procedures to provide for proactive disclosure by closely monitoring and reviewing classes of material provided on its website likely to be of interest to the public, even though the posting of such material is not legally required. For example, the Department routinely provides the following information on its Web site:

  • Recent publications and reports

  • News releases

  • Statements and speeches from senior departmental officials

  • Program initiatives

  • Laws, regulations, and compliance assistance materials

  • Employment statistics

The Department is committed to providing more information in its online "electronic reading rooms." For example, greater access to Adjudicatory Boards documents will be completed upon full implementation of eJudication, an interactive website offering a broad range of information on the status of a case or appeal. In addition, several agencies are developing new web pages with the capacity to respond to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The Department's Chief FOIA Officer will be working with the agencies throughout 2007 to identify other potential areas for proactive disclosure.

  1. Improve FOIA Tracking and Control

During the third quarter of FY 06, an informal group of FOIA coordinators and IT staff transitioned into a FOIA Tracking System Working Group, which also includes the Chief FOIA Officer and the Counsel for FOIA and Privacy Act. At the November 30, 2006 meeting, the group discussed the new enhancements to the Secretary's Information Management Systems/FOIA (SIMS/FOIA), which will be released in 2007. The new enhancements will enable users to track FOIA requests by short subject and allow them to produce overdue reports for requests that are past assigned due dates. In addition, users will be permitted to conduct searches of FOIA requests by assignments, responding office/agency, and hot/ sensitive status. Agencies may access requests from within their subordinate components or divisions as well.

The FOIA Working Group will meet quarterly throughout 2007 to continue discussing ways to improve the current system. Department agencies will also evaluate more cost effective software that is dedicated to the FOIA and redaction, which can either operate in conjunction with the SIMS/FOIA system or as a stand-alone system for utilization by all Department agencies.

  1. Increase use of Technology in FOIA Processing

The majority of Department agencies currently use the SIMS/FOIA system for inputting and tracking FOIA requests. The agencies use other products such as scanners, CD's, email, and internal databases for retrieval and processing of FOIA requests. Redaction is noted as a problem for large volumes of records; however, one agency uses Redax™, a software product of Appligent, Inc, which purportedly removes text and scanned images within a PDF file based on search criteria entered by the user. Redax™ also claims to remove sensitive or private information in accordance with FOIA and the Privacy Act

Based on current resources and the low volume of requests produced by some agencies, the use of electronic tools is limited to scanners and email deliveries for FOIA requests. Further discussions with Department agencies will be conducted to find lower cost effective means, and to encourage agencies to use as much technology as possible to handle FOIA processing.

  1. Encourage and Improve Multi-track processing and Expedited Processing

Currently, due to limited or no FOIA activity requiring large volumes of records or expedited material, Department agencies rely on systematic reviews of their processes for handling multi-track and expedited FOIA requests. In instances where FOIA requests are received requesting expeditious responses, agencies review the requests, determine the need, and notify the requester of its determination. Requesters are also notified of the option of paying half the estimated fee in advance or narrowing the scope of the request for large volumes of records. All requests that are determined to be expedited are processed in a timely manner. Agencies maintain constant contact with the requester on all matters that may delay processing of any FOIA requests.

Due to continuous changes in technology and increases in the release of information, future discussions with the agencies will be conducted to establish and implement multi-tracking and expedited processes that will ensure proper processing time of FOIA requests.

  1. Increase Appeals Capacity, Backlog Reduction and Improve Timeliness.

As noted in section A, the Department recently modified its plan to set specific targets for the reduction of its oldest initial requests. Since the time of that modification, each agency was asked to identify and quantify the number of initial requests in the various target periods. This information has been provided to the Chief FOIA Officer, and will be used as the basis of monitoring the achievement of these goals throughout 2007. The Chief FOIA Officer will be working with the individual agencies to provide guidance and, if necessary, to suggest that agency leadership provide the necessary resources to attain the goals.

At the administrative appeals level, the plan provided that the number of appeals completed and closed would increase 61 percent over the 2005 baseline. In fact, that goal was exceeded. In calendar year 2005, the Department closed 204 appeals; in calendar year 2006, the number of closed appeals was 339, thereby accounting for a 66 percent increase.

  1. Enhance Staff Expertise and Training.

As the first step in establishing a continued dialogue and forum to share best practices, a meeting of all Department agency FOIA Coordinators and FOIA Service Center Contacts was held on November 3, 2006. (In most cases, the FOIA coordinators for Department agencies also serve as the Service Center Contact.) The Department's Chief FOIA Officer convened the meeting and was joined by the FOIA Public Liaison. The major purpose of the forum was to describe and discuss the components of the FOIA improvement plan, and to outline the specific steps that each agency needed to take to meet the goals. Strong emphasis was placed on the importance of customer service and courtesy in dealings with the public on FOIA maters. The participants also discussed general experiences since the issuance of Executive Order 13392 in December 2005 and the FOIA improvement plan in June 2006. It is expected that these meetings will continue throughout 2007.

Second, the Department increased its efforts to provide resource material to FOIA staff. These efforts included an electronic version of the DOJ FOIA guide and written instructions for providing requested documents and other materials online. The Department also continues to explore new training opportunities consistent with existing resources, such as electronically based courses on the Department Intranet and periodic DOJ or other FOIA training, as well as programs offered by the American Society of Access Professionals.

  1. Identification and discussion of any deficiency in meeting plan milestones (if applicable).

The Department met or exceeded all of its milestones for 2006.

  1. Additional narrative statement regarding other executive-order related activities.

The Department's leadership is strongly committed to the objectives of Executive Order 13392, and to fully and successfully implementing its FOIA improvement plan. The senior leadership of the Department has been briefed about the components of the plan and has been provided regular updates as to its progress. An important part of these briefings and updates has been to encourage officials to provide the necessary support to its FOIA staff to achieve the various milestones.

  1. Concise descriptions of FOIA exemptions in 5 U.S.C § 552(b)

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

  1. could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,

  2. (would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,

  3. could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,

  4. could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source,

  5. would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or

  6. could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;

  1. information relating to the supervision of financial institutions; and

  2. geological information on wells.

  1. Additional Statistics.

  1. Time range of requests pending, by date of request (or, where applicable, by date of referral from another agency).

April 5, 2005 to January 24, 2007

  1. Time range of consultations pending with other agencies at this time.

N/A

  1. Attachment: Agency improvement plan:

The FOIA Improvement Plan for the Department of Labor and an Agency Plan and Report Modification are attached.

Signed at Washington, D.C. this 26th day of February, 2007.

___signed___________
Jonathan L. Snare
Acting Solicitor of Labor


Footnotes

[1]    The numbering and lettering of sections corresponds to the Department of Justice, Office of Information and Privacy's "Annual Report Guidance Outline," FOIA Update Vol. XVIII, No. 3, 1997.

[2]    This column is repeated in Column 2 of the table on page 12.

[3]    These numbers when added together equal 23,068, which corresponds to the total of Column 3 of Table V.A. above.

[4]    This column is a repeat of the information contained in column 4 of the table on page 10