Data on Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act Provided by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

Gao ID: LCD-78-119 June 16, 1978

In response to a congressional inquiry, information was obtained about 13 federal agencies' implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. Since few agencies maintained detailed records on the cost of implementing the two acts or the types of requesters, this information was generally provided by some combination of facts, estimates, and projections, and the accuracy of the information received was not verified.

The 13 agencies estimated costs for a 3-year period, fiscal years (FY) 1975 to 1977, at about $35.9 million, including Privacy Act start-up costs of about $594,000. During the 3-year period, the agencies reported receiving about 147,000 Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests. Almost all of the agencies found it difficult, if not impossible, to project work load and costs. Although the agencies did not have detailed records to support cost and requester data, the cost and requester categories did not appear unreasonable in view of legislative requirements and the agencies' activities. The Department of Justice handles litigation for these cases for all federal agencies; costs totalled about $906,000 for Freedom of Information/Privacy Act litigation expenses for FY 1976 and 1977. Litigation cost and case data for each act or agency were not readily available.

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