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HHS Fiscal Year 2000 Freedom of Information Annual Report

  1. AGENCY: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    REPORT PREPARED BY: Rosario Cirrincione
    TITLE: Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts Division,
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS.
    ADDRESS: Room 645F, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W.,
    Washington, D.C. 20201
    PHONE NUMBER: (202) 690-7453

    ELECTRONIC ADDRESS FOR THIS REPORT ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB:http://www.hhs.gov/about/foia

    ** Copies of the annual reports of several individual HHS Operating Divisions can be found at:

    Administration on Aging (AoA): http://www.aoa.gov/siteutil/foia.asp
    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): www.ahrq.gov/news/foia.htm
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): www.cdc.gov/od/foia/foi.htm
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA): www.fda.gov/foi/foia2.htm
    Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA): cms.hhs.gov/foip/default.htm
    Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): www.hrsa.gov/Newsroom/efoia.htm
    Indian Health Service (IHS): www.ihs.gov
    National Institutes of Health (NIH): www.nih.gov/od/foia/index.htm
    Program Support Center (PSC) and Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS): www.psc.gov

    ADDRESS FOR PAPER COPIES OF THIS REPORT:

    Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Division
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    Hubert H. Humphrey Building/Room 645-F
    200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20201



  2. HOW TO MAKE A FOIA REQUEST: Please see HHS Guide to Information Resources at: www.hhs.gov/about/foia. (Copy attached to paper report).

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

      HHS Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 645-F, Hubert H. Humphrey Building
      200 Independence Avenue S.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20201
      Telephone: (202) 690-7453

      Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 645-F, Hubert H. Humphrey Building
      200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20201
      Telephone: (202) 690-7453

      Administration on Aging (AoA)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      330 Independence Avenue, S.W.
      Washington D.C. 20201
      Telephone: (202) 619-2598

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Suite 501
      2101 East Jefferson Street
      Rockville, MD 20852
      Telephone: (301) 594-6391

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or
      Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      1600 Clifton Rd NE
      Atlanta, Georgia 30333
      Telephone: (404) 639-7270

      Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 12-A-16, Parklawn Building
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 827-6567

      Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room N2-20-06, North Building
      Baltimore, MD 21244
      Telephone: (410) 786-5352

      Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 14-45, Parklawn Building
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville, MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 443-2865

      Indian Health Service (IHS)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Suite 450
      12300 Twinbrook Parkway
      Rockville, MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 443-1116

      National Institutes of Health (NIH)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 2B39, Building 31
      9000 Rockville Pike
      Bethesda, MD 20892
      Telephone: (301) 496-5633

      Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 17-A-46 Parklawn Building
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville, MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 443-5252

      Program Support Center (PSC)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 17-A-18, Parklawn Building
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville, MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 443-1494

      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
      Freedom of Information Officer
      Room 13-C-05, Parklawn Building
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville, MD 20857
      Telephone: (301) 443-3814

    2. Brief description of agency’s response time range(s):

      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, there is no overall HHS time range. Individual OPDIV response times can range from same day response to over a year, depending on the complexity of the request.

       

    3. 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.


  3. DEFINITIONS OF TERMS AND ACRONYMS USED IN REPORT:

    1. 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
      HCFA - Health Care Financing Administration (Medicare and Medicaid)
      HRSA -- Health Resources and Services Administration
      IHS -- Indian Health Service
      NIH - National Institutes of Health
      OPHS -- Office of Public Health and Science
      PRO - Professional Review Organization
      PSC - Program Support Center
      SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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

      1. 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).

      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 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 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 records requested.

      9. Grant - an agency decision to disclose all records in full 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 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 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 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 eight.


  4. EXEMPTION 3 STATUTES:

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

      5 U.S.C. Appendix 6; 15 U.S.C. 3710a ( c)(7); 18 U.S.C. 208; 41 U.S.C. 253b (m); 42 U.S.C. 242m (d); 42 U.S.C. 300aa12(d)(4)(A); 42 U.S.C. 1320c9;42 U.S.C. 11137(b).

      1. Brief description of type(s) of information withheld under each statute:

        5 U.S.C. Appendix 6 - Ethics in Government Act of 1989, prohibits release of confidential reports by employees whose positions are covered by the Act.

        15 U.S.C. 3710a ( c)(7) - Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986; prohibits the release of confidential commercial information obtained from a private sector partner.

        18 U.S.C. 208 - Ethics in Government Act; prohibits release of financial disclosure forms/personal financial interest..

        41 U.S.C. 253b (m) - National Defense Authorization Act; prohibits release of contractor proposals not incorporated into agency contracts.

        42 U.S.C. 242m (d) - Public Health Service Act; prohibits release of health information identifiable to an individual or establishment.

        42 U.S.C. 300aa12 (d) (4) (A) - National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act; prohibits release of information submitted to a special master or court proceeding without the express consent of the person submitting the information.

        42 U.S.C. 1320c9 - Social Security Act; prohibits release of data or information acquired by a professional review organization (PRO) in the exercise of its duties and functions.

        42 U.S.C. 11137 (b) - Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 and the National Practitioners Data Bank; Prohibits release of adverse reports of a physician’s conduct or practice.

      2. Has a court upheld the use of each statute? If so, cite example:No.


  5. INITIAL FOIA/PA ACCESS REQUESTS (Include all requests, 3rd or 1st party):

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

      1. Number of requests pending at close of preceding fiscal year: 16774
      2. Number of requests received during reporting fiscal year: 61971
      3. Number of requests processed during reporting fiscal year: 60060
      4. Number of requests pending at close of reporting fiscal year: 18685
        (Enter this number also as Line VII.B.1.)


    2. Disposition of Initial Requests:
      1. Number granted in full: 50710
      2. Number granted in part: 823
      3. Number of full and partial denials: 9350 (includes item 4, below).
        1. Number of times each FOIA exemption was used:
          Exemption 1 - 0000
          Exemption 2 - 61
          Exemption 3 - 28
          Exemption 4 - 309
          Exemption 5 - 216
          Exemption 6 - 1438
          Exemption 7 - 247
          (Exemption 7(A) - 182
          Exemption 7(B) - 0
          Exemption 7(C) - 43
          Exemption 7(D) - 13
          Exemption 7(E) - 9
          Exemption 7(F) - 0)
          Exemption 8 - 0000
          Exemption 9 - 0000
      4. Other reasons for non-disclosure (total) 7295
        a. no records 3130
        b. referrals 409
        c. request withdrawn 2437
        d. fee-related reason 156
        e. records not reasonably described 07
        f. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 460
        g. not an agency record 25
        h. duplicate request 334
        i. other (specify) 337 (Glomar; materials more readily available from other sources, e.g. internet, libraries, etc.)


  6. APPEALS OF INITIAL DENIALS OF FOIA/PA REQUESTS (include all access requests whether first or third party):

    1. Numbers of Appeals:
      1. Number of appeals received during the fiscal year 205
      2. Number of appeals processed during the fiscal year 98


    2. Disposition of Appeals:
      1. Number completely upheld 30
      2. Number partially reversed 14
      3. Number completely reversed 19
        1. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption used once per appeal)
          Exemption 1 - 0
          Exemption 2 - 0
          Exemption 3 - 0
          Exemption 4 - 0
          Exemption 5 - 11
          Exemption 6 - 11
          Exemption 7 - 6
          (Exemption 7 (A) - 4
          Exemption 7(B) - 0
          Exemption 7(C) - 2
          Exemption 7(D) - 0
          Exemption 7(E) - 0
          Exemption 7(F) - 0)
          Exemption 8 - 0
          Exemption 9 - 0
      4. Other reasons for non-disclosure (total) 35
        1. no records 18
        2. referrals 1
        3. request withdrawn 7
        4. fee-related reason 2
        5. records not reasonably described 0
        6. not a proper FOIA request for some other reason 0
        7. not an agency record 0
        8. duplicate request 3
        9. other (specify) 4 (non-agency appeal; Glomar; material more readily available from other sources, e.g., Internet, libraries, etc.)


  7. COMPLIANCE WITH TIME LIMITS/STATUS OF PENDING REQUESTS:

    1. Median Processing Time for Requests Processed During the Year. (Not all HHS components used multiple track systems. For the reports of those that did, please see the individual annual reports of the FDA, HCFA, and the PSC/OPHS)
      1. Simple Requests (if multiple tracks used):
        1. number of requests processed _______
        2. median number of days to process _______
      2. Complex Requests (specify for any and all tracks used):
        1. number of requests processed _______
        2. median number of days to process _______
      3. Requests Accorded Expedited Processing:
        1. number of requests processed: 58
        2. median number of days to process: 69 (This is the median of the medians. Individual operating division medians range from 5 days to135 days)
    2. 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): 18685

      2. Median number of days that such requests were pending as of that date: Medians vary greatly from OPDIV to OPDIV. Among those OPDIVS with pending requests at the end of the fiscal year, median of medians was 153, and the medians ranged from 5 days to 301 days.

        **Median times of pending requests for the major components are:

        OS: 27
        CDC: 58
        FDA: 188
        HCFA: 301
        HRSA: 16
        NIH: 210


  8. COMPARISONS WITH PREVIOUS YEARS(S) (Optional):

  9. COSTS/FOIA STAFFING:

    1. Staffing levels:
      1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel 174
      2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years) 70
      3. Total number of personnel (in work years) 244
    2. Total costs (including staff and all resources):
      1. FOIA processing (including appeals) $10,393,562
      2. Litigation-related activities (estimated) $412,705
      3. Total costs $10,806,267
      4. Comparison with previous year(s) (including percentage of change) (optional) _____
  10. FEES:

    1. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $1,120,221
    2. Percentage of total costs: 10.4%


  11. 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, however the current HHS FOIA regulation can be found at 45 CFR Part 5, and at: www.hhs.gov/foia/45cfr5.html (Copy attached to paper report).

Comments/Suggestions to Rosario Cirricione


Content last reviewed on June 20, 2006