HHS AHRQ Freedom of Information Annual Report - FY 2007

Freedom of Information Act Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2007.

I.

Agency: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Report Prepared By: Nancy Comfort

Title: Freedom of Information Officer

Address: 540 Gaither Road Rockville, MD 20850

Phone number: (301) 427-1866

Electronic Address for Report on the World Wide Web: http://www.ahrq.gov/foia/foiaindx.html

Copies of the annual reports of a number of individual Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Operating Divisions can be found by contacting the responsible component shown in Section II below, or by locating a FOIA link at the following Web sites: http://www.ahrq.gov/foia/foiaindx.html.

 

Address for Paper Copies of this Report: 540 Gaither Road Rockville, MD 20850

 

II. How To Make a FOIA Request: 

Please go to HHS Guide to Information Resources at: http://www.hhs.gov/about/infoguid.html#foia. 

A. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all individual agency components and offices that process FOIA requests:  

B.  Brief description of agency's response time range(s): 

There is no overall time range because individual operating divisions (OPDIVS) have authority to release or deny their own 
records, and vary greatly in terms of the size and volume of FOIA requests processed.  Individual OPDIV response times 
can range from same day response to over a year, depending on the complexity of the request. 

C.  Brief description of why some requests are not granted:

Documents requested were protected by an exemption and release would have caused harm to the interest protected by 
the exemption. 

III. Definitions of Terms and Acronyms Used in Report:

A.  Agency-specific acronyms or other terms:

HHS—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
OPDIVs—Operating Divisions of HHS                          
OS—Office of the Secretary, HHS        
OASPA—Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS
AoA—Administration on Aging
ACF—Administration for Children and Families
AHRQ—Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
ATSDR—Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 
CDC—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
FDA—Food and Drug Administration
HRSA—Health Resources and Services Administration 
IHS—Indian Health Service
NIH—National Institutes of Health
OPHS—Office of Public Health and Science 
PHS—Public Health Service
PRO—Professional Review Organization
PSC—Program Support Center
SAMHSA—Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

B.  Basic terms (from FOIA UPDATE, Summer 1997): 

FOIA/PA request—Freedom of Information/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).

Initial Request—a request to a federal agency for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.

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.

Processed Request or Appeal—a request or appeal for which an agency has taken a final action on the request 
or appeal in all respects.

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).

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.

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 the records requested.

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.

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

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 exemptions; or a decision to disclose some records 
in their entireties, but to withhold others in whole or in part.

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 FOIA 
exemptions or for some procedural reason (such as because no record is located in response to a FOIA request).

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).

Perfected  request—a FOIA request for records which adequately describes the records sought, which has been 
received by the FOIA office of the agency component in possession of the records, and for which there is no 
remaining question about the payment of applicable fees.

Exemption 3 statute—a separate federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and 
authorizing its withholding under FOIA subsection (b)(3).

Median number—the middle, not average, number. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.

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:

A.  List of Exemption 3 statutes relied on by the agency during report year:

1.  Brief description of type(s) of information withheld under each statute:  
2.  Has a court upheld the use of each statute?  If so, cite example: 

V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests (Include all requests, 3rd  or 1st party):

A.  Numbers of initial requests (line 1 + line 2 - line 3 = line 4):

1.  Number of requests pending at close of preceding fiscal year:  1
2.  Number of requests received during reporting fiscal year:     57
3.  Number of requests processed during reporting fiscal year:    55
4.  Number of requests pending at close of reporting fiscal year:  7 
    (This number should match Line VII.B.1.) 
    
B.  Disposition of Initial Requests:

1.  Number granted in full             24
2.  Number granted in part              6
3.  Number of full denials              2

a.  Number of times each FOIA exemption was used:

Exemption 1    0
Exemption 2    0
Exemption 3    3
Exemption 4    4
Exemption 5    1
Exemption 6    2
Exemption 7    0
Exemption 7(A)
Exemption 7(B)
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7(F)
Exemption 8    0000
Exemption 9    0000

4.  Other reasons for non-disclosure (total)

a.  no records                                       12
b.  referrals                                         6
c.  request withdrawn                                 1
d.  fee-related reason                                0
e.  records not reasonably described                  0
f.  not a proper FOIA request for some other reason   2
g.  not an agency record                              2
h.  duplicate request                                 0
i.  other (specify)                                   0

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests (include all access requests whether first or third party):

A.  Numbers of Appeals:

1.  Number of appeals received during the fiscal year  1
2.  Number of appeals processed during the fiscal year 0

B.  Disposition of Appeals: N/A

1.  Number completely upheld
2.  Number partially reversed
3.  Number completely reversed

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

Exemption 1
Exemption 2
Exemption 3
Exemption 4
Exemption 5
Exemption 6
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(A)
Exemption 7(B)
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7(F)
Exemption 8      0
Exemption 9      0

4.  Other reasons for non-disclosure (total)

a.  no records
b.  referrals
c.  request withdrawn
d.  fee-related reason
e.  records not reasonably described
f.  not a proper FOIA request for some other reason
g.  not an agency record
h.  duplicate request
i.  other (specify)

VII. Compliance With Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests:

A.  Median Processing Time for Requests Processed During the Year:

1.  Simple Requests (if multiple tracks used): 51

a.  number of requests processed        50
b.  median number of days to process     0

2.  Complex Requests (includes total of complex requests and single-track systems): 3

a.  number of requests processed         2
b.  median number of days to process    26

3.  Requests Accorded Expedited Processing:  3

a.  number of requests processed         3 
b.  median number of days to process     0

B.  Status of Pending Requests (if multiple tracks are being used, report for each track as well as totals).

1.  Number of requests pending as of the end of the fiscal year 
    covered in this report (from Line V.A.4)                               3
2.  Median number of days that such requests were pending as of that date 10

    Medians vary greatly from OPDIV to OPDIV.
    
VIII. Comparisons With Previous Year(s): (Optional):

A. Comparison of numbers of requests received:  

B. Comparison of numbers of requests processed:  

C. Comparison of median numbers of days requests were pending as of end of fiscal year: 

D. Other statistics significant to components:   

E. Other narrative statements describing agency efforts to improve timeliness of FOIA performance and to make 
records available to the public  (e.g., backlog-reduction activities; public availability of new categories 
of records):  None.  

IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing:

A.  Staffing levels:

1.  Number of full-time FOIA personnel           1
2.  Number of personnel with part-time or occasional
    FOIA duties (in total work-years)            0
3.  Total number of personnel (in work years)    1

B.  Total costs (including staff and all resources):

1.  FOIA processing (including appeals)     $47,639.50
2.  Litigation-related activities (estimated)    $0.00
3.  Total costs                             $47,639.50
4.  Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change) (optional)

Fees

A.  Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests:  $196.60
B.  Percentage of total costs:  

FOIA Regulations (including fee schedule) 

The FOIA regulation implementing the 1996 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act has been published 
as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making and public comments have been received.  The passage of PL 105-277 
requiring OMB to revise circular A-110 will require further revisions to the HHS FOIA regulation and public 
comments on those new sections.  That effort is currently underway.  Until such time as the revised 
regulation is published as a new final rule, the current HHS FOIA regulation can be found at 45 CFR Part 5, 
and at: http://www.hhs.gov/foia/45cfr5.html.
  
XII.  Report on FOIA Executive Order Implementation

A.  Description of supplementation/modification of agency improvement plan (if applicable): 

B.  Report on agency implementation of its plan, including its performance in meeting milestones, with 
respect to each improvement area: 

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

D.  Additional narrative statement regarding other executive order-related activities (optional)

E.  Concise description of FOIA exemptions

F.  Additional statistics:

1.  Time range of requests pending, by date of request (or, where applicable, by date of referral from 
another agency).
2.  Time range of consultations pending with other agencies, by date of initial interagency communication

G.  Attachment:  Agency improvement plan (in current form) 
This plan can be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/foia/foiaopreviewplan.pdf PDF file(PDF, 470KB)
Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: HHS AHRQ Freedom of Information Annual Report - FY 2007. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/policy/foia/foiafy07.html