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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Service Center

FDIC Annual Report on the Freedom of Information Act
Fiscal Year 2004 (October 1, 2003 - September 30, 2004)

I. Basic Information Regarding this Report

A. The FDIC contact person for questions about this report is Fredrick Lee Fisch, Supervisory Counsel (FOIA/Privacy Act Officer), FDIC Legal Division, 550 17th St. N.W., Room H-3039, Washington, D.C. 20429; Telephone (202) 736-0526; FAX (202) 736-0547.

B. This report is available on the FDIC web site at

C. A paper copy of this report may be obtained by downloading it from the FDIC web site or by requesting a copy from the FDIC Public Information Center, 801 17th Street. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006; Telephone (877) 275-FDIC (3342)

II. How to Make a FOIA Request to the FDIC

A. All FOIA requests are processed by the FDIC FOIA/Privacy Act Group in Washington, D.C. Requests must be in writing and directed to Fredrick Lee Fisch, FOIA Officer, FDIC Legal Division, 550 17th St. N.W., Room H-3039, Washington, D.C. 20429. Requests may also be submitted electronically through the FDIC Electronic FOIA Office on the web site at . The FDIC publication entitled, “FOIA Guide – Gaining Access to FDIC Information” explains in detail how to submit a FOIA request to the FDIC. The FOIA Guide is available on the FDIC web site at .

B. The FDIC makes every effort to comply with the statutory time period for responding to FOIA requests. Response times range from 1 day to several months in rare cases. The vast majority of requests are fulfilled within 20 business days.

C. Some FOIA requests are denied in whole or in part because the information requested is exempted from disclosure by the FOIA (5 U.S.C. §552 (b)) or another statute. The exemptions most often applicable to information requested from the FDIC include (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6) and (b)(8). The FDIC receives a great deal of privileged and private financial information concerning individuals, business, and banking entities by virtue of its roles as a federal financial institution regulatory agency as well as the appointed receiver of virtually all failed U.S. depository institutions. Therefore, exemptions (b)(4) and (b)(6) are invoked to withhold confidential or privileged material. The FDIC is also the primary regulator of most state-chartered financial institutions and therefore prepares or receives bank examination reports and related material. Such records are exempted from FOIA disclosure in order to promote frank communications between financial institutions and the FDIC examination staff and to maintain stability in the financial system. Accordingly, the FDIC invokes FOIA exemption (b)(8) for these purposes. Other exemptions, such as (b)(2) and (b)(7)(A) are used occasionally. In some cases, records cannot be located.

III. Definitions of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report

A. There are no FDIC-specific acronyms or other terms used in this report.

B. Basic report terms expressed in common terminology include:
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 FDIC for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.
3. Appeal  – A request to FDIC 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 FDIC 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 – The FDIC 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 FDIC (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 FDIC (using multi-track processing) places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested.
9. Grant – A decision to disclose all records in full in response to a FOIA request.
10. Partial grant – A 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 entirety, but to withhold others in whole or in part.
11. Denial  – A 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 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 the FDIC 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 FDIC FOIA/Privacy Act Group in Washington, D.C., 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, for the numbers 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, for the numbers 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

A. 31 U.S.C. § 5318(g)
1. The FDIC used this section of the Bank Secrecy Act on one occasion to partially deny access to requested records. The material consisted of a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filed by a financial institution in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act and SAR regulations issued by the five federal financial institution supervisory agencies and the U. S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
2. The FDIC is unaware of any court case upholding the use of 31 U.S.C. § 5318(g) as an exemption 3 statute. The statute, however, has been widely upheld when used in litigation to shield SARs from use in discovery or civil trials.

V. Initial FOIA/PA Access Requests

A. Numbers of initial requests.
1. Number of requests pending as of end of preceding fiscal year: 63
2. Number of requests received during current fiscal year: 727
3. Number of requests processed during current fiscal year: 733
4. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year: 57

B. Disposition of initial requests.
1. Number of total grants: 456
2. Number of partial grants: 75
3. Number of denials: 23

(a) Exemptions used
Exemption 1: 0
Exemption 2: 14
Exemption 3: 1
Exemption 4: 39
Exemption 5: 28
Exemption 6: 69
Exemption 7(A): 0
Exemption 7(B): 0
Exemption 7(C): 7
Exemption 7(D): 1
Exemption 7(E): 3
Exemption 7(F): 0
Exemption 8: 25
Exemption 9: 0
4. Other reasons for nondisclosure: 179
(a) no records: 72
(b) referrals: 1
(c) request withdrawn: 37
(d) fee-related reason: 9
(e) records not reasonably described: 45
(f) not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 0
(g) not an agency record: 9
(h) duplicate request: 6
(i) other (specify): 0

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

A. Numbers of appeals.
1. Number of appeals received during fiscal year: 14
2. Number of appeals processed during fiscal year: 14

B. Disposition of appeals.
1. Number completely upheld: 2
2. Number partially upheld: 3
3. Number completely reversed: 2

(a) Exemptions used
Exemption 1: 0
Exemption 2: 1
Exemption 3: 1
Exemption 4: 4
Exemption 5: 3
Exemption 6: 5
Exemption 7(A): 0
Exemption 7(B): 0
Exemption 7(C): 3
Exemption 7(D): 0
Exemption 7(E): 2
Exemption 7(F): 0
Exemption 8: 3
Exemption 9: 0
4. Other reasons for nondisclosure: 7
(a) no records: 5
(b) referrals: 0
(c) request (appeal) withdrawn: 2
(d) fee related reason: 0
(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

A. Median processing time for requests processed during the year.1
1. Simple Requests.

(a) Number of requests processed: 442
(b) Median number of days to process: 13
2. Complex requests.
(a) Number of requests processed: 287
(b) Median number of days to process: 20
3. Requests accorded expedited processing.2
(a) Number of requests processed: 4
(b) Median number of days to process: 3

B. Status of pending requests.
1. Number of requests pending as of end of current fiscal year: 57
2. Median number of days that such requests were pending as of that date: 17

VIII. Comparisons with Previous Year

A. Requests received.
Prior Reporting Period: 789
Current Reporting Period: 727

B. Requests processed.
Prior Reporting Period: 823
Current Reporting Period: 733

C. Median number of days requests were pending as of the end of the year.
Prior Reporting Period: 15
Current Reporting Period: 17

D. Four requests for expedited processing were formally requested and granted.

E. Overall response time continues to improve due primarily to staff training, better communication with requesters, and greater use of technology. The number of appeals continues to decline signifying improved quality of initial responses and requester satisfaction. The effectiveness of FOIA operations is a matter of continuous evaluation.3
The number of requests received on the FDIC's web site continues to steadily increase.4  
Training was provided for employees at the Dallas Regional Office.5

IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing

A. Staffing levels.
1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel: 6
2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties (in total work-years): 4
3. Total number of personnel (in work-years): 10 6

B. Total costs (including staff and all resources).
1. FOIA processing: $1,786,690
2. Litigation-related activities: $100,160 7
3. Total costs: $1,886,850

X. Fees

A. Total amount of fees collected by agency for processing requests: $25,375 8

B. Percentage of total costs: 1.34%

XI. FOIA Regulations and Fee Schedule:

FDIC FOIA regulations may be found at: Paper copies of this report contain the full text of the regulations.

The FDIC Records Fee Schedule is set forth below and it may be found at

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Records Fee Schedule
April 4, 2005

In accordance with 12 C.F.R. § 309.5(f), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation hereby sets forth the fees to be charged for the production of agency records. These fees will be effective for requests submitted no less than thirty days from the above date of issuance. Persons requesting records from the FDIC shall be charged for the direct costs of search, review and duplication as set forth at 12 C.F.R. § 309.5(f), unless such costs are less than $10.00. The following fees shall be in effect until further notice.

Hourly labor rates:    Executive staff @ $99.00  -  Professional staff @ $62.00  -  Clerical staff @ $27.00

Duplication:    $0.20 per page

Computer charges:    Personal computer rate @ $1.84 per hour of use (in addition to hourly labor rates); Floppy disks @ $.50 each (plus data/labor costs); CD @ $1.00 (plus data/labor costs); Magnetic tape reel/cartridge @ $10.00 each (plus data/labor costs); Large tape reel/cartridge @ $100.00 each (plus data/labor costs); Mainframe computer data costs (plus hourly labor rates, if applicable): CPU processing @ $0.18 per second; Disk I/O @ $0.35 per 1000 transactions; Tape I/O @ $0.20 per 1000 transactions; Printing @ $0.88 per 1000 lines.

Special products:    Certain reports, manuals and other products are offered at set prices by agency components which produce them.  Prices may be obtained upon request.

1 Mail-handling procedures initiated after September 11, 2001 continue to cause some disruption to the FDIC’s receipt of FOIA requests received through the U.S. Postal Service. Nevertheless, FDIC processed 733 cases to conclusion with a very low overall median processing time.

2 Expedited processing is generally granted to news media requesters, a party whose health or physical safety is in danger, or for other good cause. Most of the requests accorded expedited processing were complex matters requiring great attention to detail, the tasking of multiple Offices and Divisions of the FDIC, the retrieval of records from remote locations, and extensive redaction and review time. All of the requests designated for expedited processing were in the educational, scientific and news media fee category. Last year’s FOIA Annual Report showed a substantial decrease in processing time for expedited requests, going from 72 calendar days in fiscal year 2002 to 15 business days in fiscal year 2003. This year, the FDIC has improved again in reducing the processing time of expedited requests from 15 business days down to 3 business days. This further improvement is a result of increased communication with news media requesters. The FDIC regularly contacts news media and all categories of FOIA requesters to help understand and refine the scope of the search necessary to satisfy the request. This protocol often eliminates the need for burdensome and time-consuming searches and review periods that may have produced little or no responsive material and would clearly have resulted in response time delays.

3 The FDIC’s FOIA Officer undertakes detailed periodic analyses of outstanding and closed FOIA requests. The results of these analyses are communicated through the supervisory chain and discussed among FOIA staff at regular meetings. This continuous review of response times, appeal rates, aging of requests, and subject matter trends, as well as the updating of the FDIC’s FOIA web pages, provides the FDIC with useful tools in evaluating the efficiency of FOIA operations.

4 The FDIC has posted a great deal of information directly on the web site, such as records concerning regulatory proposals, member financial institution data, FDIC enforcement actions, public comments, and final orders issued from FDIC's Board of Directors. The on-line agency FOIA Guide also helps requesters to better target their requests and includes links to the FDIC's FOIA regulation, the Justice Department's Guide to the FOIA, and popular FOIA records. In September 2004, the FDIC completed a comprehensive update of all FOIA web pages, ensuring that all information is current, increasing the number of links to frequently requested materials, and improving access through more intuitive selection buttons.

5 One session was held in October 2003 and another in December 2003. The audience for each two-hour session was approximately 50 people, consisting of legal, accounting, administrative, and receivership resolution staff. FOIA staff also issued multiple written memoranda and provided other guidance to many Offices and Divisions of the FDIC and coordinated and tracked the FOIA appeals for the General Counsel.

6 This does not include staff at the FDIC's Reading Room/Public Information Center.

7 The FDIC was named as a party in two new FOIA-related lawsuits this year. Litigation costs incurred by the FDIC involve providing assistance to various U.S. Attorney’s Offices in defending FOIA litigation brought against the Justice Department regarding law enforcement records, some of which had originated with the FDIC.

8 This does not include fees collected from the Reading Room/Public Information Center, since those fees are not generated pursuant to requests for records under section (a)(3) of the FOIA. The Public Information Center collected fees of $17,905.00 during the same period. Pursuant to statute, the FDIC’s published regulations afford discounted search, review, and duplication charges to certain noncommercial requestors. The FDIC therefore fulfills many FOIA requests at no charge to these requestors, while accruing substantial cumulative costs.