The Department of Homeland Security recently proposed a rule on Freedom of Information Act regulations. DHS has provided a section-by-section analysis of the provisions in this proposed rule and “concludes that this rule does not impose additional costs on the public or the government.” It also says: “The rule’s benefits include additional clarity for the public and DHS personnel with respect to DHS’s implementation of the FOIA and subsequent statutory amendments.” DHS also certifies that this regulation “will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”
I take exception to the fact that DHS has not been able to quantify any costs or benefits to the public or the government for at least two reasons. First, DHS has had a backlog of more than 100,000 FOIA requests that have been unanswered…including mine. This backlog is the most number of FOIA requests of any federal agency. It seems reasonable to assume that some of these requestors would have incurred quantifiable costs given the current level of compliance.
Second, it could be argued that this proposal might reduce the magnitude of the backlog and reduce the wait time delays – both of which could be considered benefits of this rulemaking. Otherwise, why develop a new proposal on FOIA regulations?
I urge you to submit a comment, like I have, on the quantifiable benefits and costs that you have incurred through the FOIA process.