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NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REPORT

FOR OCTOBER 1, 2008 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

 

I.  BASIC INFORMATION:

A.  Point of Contact:

Leslie A. Jensen, NSF FOIA Officer

Office of the General Counsel

4201 Wilson Blvd, Room 1265

Arlington, VA  22230

(703) 292-5065

B.  Electronic Address for report: The FY 2009 FOIA Report for the National

Science Foundation (NSF) will be available as one of the choices under the

References section of the FOIA page on the NSF web site:

http://www.nsf.gov/policies/foia.jsp .

C.  Paper Copies of report: Paper copies can be requested from the Point of

Contact listed above.

II.  HOW TO MAKE A FOIA REQUEST:

NSF policy is to make the fullest possible disclosure of information and

records to any requester, without unnecessary expenses or delay.  NSF’s

“Public Information Handbook” is available electronically as one of the

choices under the References section of the FOIA page on the Foundation’s

web site: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf07135 .

There are four basic agency requirements for making a FOIA request:

(1)  the request must be in writing (mailed correspondence, fax, or email) and

include the requester’s mailing address;

(2)  the envelope and letter content must identify the request as a FOIA

request;

(3)  the request must provide enough detail to allow identification of the

requested records; and

(4)  the request must include agreement to pay fees chargeable under NSF’s

fee schedule.

A.  Agency Components:

Requests for records of the agency should be sent to the NSF FOIA Officer,

Office of the General Counsel, Room 1265, 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA

22230.

Phone: 703-292-5065, Fax: 703-292-9041.  Email: foia@nsf.gov.

Requests for documents maintained by the Office of the Inspector General

should be addressed directly to the OIG, FOIA, Room 1135, 4201 Wilson Blvd,

Arlington, VA 22230.

Phone:  703-292-7100.  Email:  oig@nsf.gov

 

B.  Why some requests are not granted:

Requests for records may not be granted if the records do not exist; if

records have been transferred to the ownership of the National Archives and

Records Administration (NARA); if records contain predecisional information

that if released would cause harm to NSF’s decision-making processes; if

records contain personal and/or proprietary information; if records contain

information compiled for law enforcement purposes; or if the requester

asked for information specifically prohibited from disclosure by other

statutes.

III.  ACRONYMS, DEFINITIONS, AND EXEMPTIONS:

1.      Agency-specific terms and acronyms:

NSF - National Science Foundation – The National Science Foundation was

established by Congress to promote progress in science and engineering.

The agency does so primarily through grants and cooperative agreements with

colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, information

science organizations and other research institutions throughout the U.S.

2.      Basic terms:

  a. Administrative Appeal – a request to a federal agency asking that it

     review at a higher administrative level a FOIA determination made by

     the agency at the initial request level.

  b. 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.

  c. Backlog – the number of requests or administrative appeals that are

     pending at an agency at the end of the fiscal year that are beyond the

     statutory time period for a response.

  d. Component – for agencies that process requests on a decentralized

     basis, a “component” is an entity, also sometimes referred to as an

     Office, Division, Bureau, Center, or Directorate, within the agency

     that processes FOIA requests.  The FOIA now requires that agencies

     include in their Annual FOIA Report data for both the agency overall

     and for each principal component of the agency.

  e. Consultation – the procedure whereby the agency responding to a FOIA

     request first forwards a record to another agency for its review

     because that other agency has an interest in the document.  Once the

     agency in receipt of the consultation finishes its review of the

     record, it responds back to the agency that forwarded it.  That

     agency, in turn, will then respond to the FOIA requester.

  f. Exemption 3 Statute – a federal statute that exempts information from

     disclosure and which the agency relies on to withhold information

     under subsection (b)(3) of the FOIA.

  g. FOIA Request – a FOIA request is generally a request to a federal

     agency for access to records concerning another person (i.e. a

     “third-party” request), or concerning an organization, or a particular

     topic of interest.  FOIA requests also include requests made by

     requesters seeking records concerning themselves (i.e., “first-party”

     requests) when those requestors are not subject to the Privacy Act,

     such as non-U.S. citizens.  Moreover, because all first-party

     requesters should be afforded the benefit of both the access

     provisions of the FOIA as well as those of the Privacy Act, FOIA

     requests also include any first-party requests where an agency

     determines that it must search beyond its Privacy Act “systems of

     records” or where a Privacy Act exemption applies, and the agency

     looks to FOIA to afford the greatest possible access.  All requests

     which require the agency to utilize the FOIA in responding to the

     requester are included in this report.

     Additionally, a FOIA request includes records referred to the agency

     for processing and direct response to the requester.  It does not,

     however, include records for which the agency has received a

     consultation from another agency.  (Consultations are reported

     separately in Section XII of this Report.)

  h. Full Grant – an agency decision to disclose all records in full in

     response to a FOIA request.

  i. Full Denial – an agency decision not to release any records in

     response to a FOIA request because the records are exempt in their

     entireties under one or more of the FOIA exemptions, or because of a

     procedural reason, such as when no records could be located.

  j. Median Number – the middle, not average, number.  For example, of 3,

     7, and 14, the median number is 7.

  k. Multi-Track Processing – a system in which simple requests requiring

     relative minimal review are placed in one processing track and more

     voluminous and complex requests are placed in one or more other

     tracks.  Requests granted expedited processing are placed in yet

     another track.  Requests in each track are processed on a first

     in/first out basis.

     i.  Expedited Processing – an agency will process a FOIA request on an

     expedited basis when a requester satisfied the requirement for

     expedited processing as set forth in the statute and in agency

     regulations.

     ii.  Simple Request – a FOIA request that an agency using multi-track

     processing places in its fastest (non-expedited) track based on the

     low volume and/or simplicity of the records requested.

     iii.  Complex Request – a FOIA request that an agency using

     multi-track processing places in a slower track based on the high

     volume and/or complexity of the records requested.

  l. Partial Grant/Partial Denial – in response to a FOIA request, an

     agency decision to disclose portions of the records and to withhold

     other portions that are exempt under the FOIA, or to otherwise deny a

     portion of the request for a procedural reason.

  m. Pending Request or Pending Administrative Appeal – a request or

     administrative appeal for which an agency has not taken final action

     in all respects.

  n. Perfected Request – a request for records which reasonably describes

     such records and is made in accordance with published rules stating

     the time, place, fees (if any) and procedures to be followed.

  o. Processed Request or Processed Administrative Appeal – a request or

     administrative appeal for which an agency has taken final action in

     all respects.

  p. Range in Number of Days – the lowest and highest number of days to

     process requests or administrative appeals.

  q. Time Limits – the time period in the statue for an agency to respond

     to a FOIA request (ordinarily twenty working days from receipt of a

     perfected FOIA request).

3.  Nine FOIA exemptions:

      a.  Exemption 1:  classified national defense and foreign relations

information.

      b.  Exemption 2:  internal agency rules and practices.

      c.  Exemption 3:  information that is prohibited from disclosure by

another federal law.

      d.  Exemption 4:  trade secrets and other confidential business

information.

      e.  Exemption 5:  inter-agency or intra-agency communications that

are protected by legal privileges.

f.       Exemption 6:  information involving matters of personal privacy.

g.      Exemption 7:  records or information compiled for law enforcement

purposes, to the extent that the production of those records (A) could

reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would

deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,

(C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of

personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity

of a confidential source, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for

law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose

guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or (F) could

be reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any

individual.

h.      Exemption 8:  information relating to the supervision of financial

institutions.

i.       Exemption 9:  geological information on wells.

 

 

 

 

 

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

A. Exemption 3 Statutes Relied upon to Withhold Information

Status

Type of Information Withheld

Case Citation

Number of Times Relied upon per Component

Total Number of Times Relied upon by Agency

35 U.S.C. § 122
(Patent Act)

 

Patent pending applications

Irons & Sears v. Dann, 606 F.2d 1215, 1219-21 (D.C. Cir. 1979).

NSF # 13
OIG # 0

13

41 U.S.C. § 253b(m)(1)
(National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997)

Proposal documents not incorporated into contracts

Hornbostel v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, 305 F. Supp. 2d 21, 30 (D.D.C. 2003), summary affirmance granted, No. 03-5257, 2004 WL 1900562 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 25, 2004).

NSF # 3
OIG # 0

3

V. FOIA REQUESTS

A. Received, Processed and Pending FOIA Requests

 

Column 1

 Column 2

 Column 3

 Column 4

 

Number of Requests Pending as of Start of Fiscal Year

Number of Requests Received in Fiscal Year

Number of Requests Processed in Fiscal Year

Number of Requests Pending as of End of Fiscal Year

NSF

1

318

303

16

OIG

2

77

79

0

Agency Overall

3

395

382

16

B. (1) Disposition of FOIA Requests - All Processed Requests

 

Number of Full Grants

Number of Partial Grants/Partial Denials

Number of Full Denials Based on Exemptions

Number of Full Denials Based on Reasons Other than Exemptions

 

 

 

 

 

No Records

All Records Referred to Another Component or Agency

Request Withdrawn

Fee-Related Reason

Records not Reasonably Described

Improper FOIA Request for Other Reason

Not Agency Record

Duplicate Request

Other *Explain in chart below

TOTAL

NSF

84

167

7

19

0

21

0

1

0

1

0

3

303

OIG

3

50

10

7

0

4

0

0

3

0

2

0

79

Agency Overall

87

217

17

26

0

25

0

1

3

1

2

3

382

 

 

B. (2) Disposition of FOIA Requests - "Other" Reasons for "Full Denials Based on Reasons Other than Exemptions" from Section V, B (1) Chart

 

Description of "Other" Reasons for Denials from Chart B(1) & Number of Times Those Reasons Were Relied upon

TOTAL

NSF

No awarded proposal. [1]

Suspended

[2]

3

OIG

 

0

 

B. (3) Disposition of FOIA Requests - Number of Times Exemptions Applied

 

Ex. 1

Ex. 2

Ex. 3

Ex. 4

Ex. 5

Ex. 6

Ex. 7(A)

Ex. 7(B)

Ex. 7(C)

Ex. 7(D)

Ex. 7(E)

Ex. 7(F)

Ex. 8

Ex. 9

NSF

0

0

16

95

13

213

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

1

3

59

2

0

60

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

16

96

16

272

2

0

60

0

0

0

0

0

VI. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS OF INITIAL DETERMINATIONS OF FOIA REQUESTS

A. Received, Processed and Pending Administrative Appeals

 

Number of Appeals Pending as of Start of Fiscal Year

Number of Appeals Received in Fiscal Year

Number of Appeals Processed in Fiscal Year

Number of Appeals Pending as of End of Fiscal Year

NSF

0

3

3

0

OIG

0

4

4

0

Agency Overall

0

7

7

0

 

B. Disposition of Administrative Appeals - All Processed Appeals

 

Number Affirmed on Appeal

Number Partially Affirmed & Partially Reversed/Remanded on Appeal

Number Completely Reversed/Remanded on Appeal

Number of Appeals Closed for Other Reasons

TOTAL

NSF

2

1

0

0

3

OIG

3

1

0

0

4

Agency Overall

5

2

0

0

7

 

 

 

 

C.(1) Reasons for Denial on Appeal - Number of Times Exemptions Applied

 

Ex. 1

Ex. 2

Ex. 3

Ex. 4

Ex. 5

Ex. 6

Ex. 7(A)

Ex. 7(B)

Ex. 7(C)

Ex. 7(D)

Ex. 7(E)

Ex. 7(F)

Ex. 8

Ex. 9

NSF

0

0

1

1

1

3

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

0

2

4

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

1

1

3

7

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

0

C. (2) Reasons for Denial on Appeal - Reasons Other than Exemptions

 

No Records

Records Referred at Initial Request Level

Request Withdrawn

Fee-Related Reason

Records not Reasonably Described

Improper Request for Other Reasons

Not Agency Record

Duplicate Request or Appeal

Request in Litigation

Appeal Based Solely on Denial of Request for Expedited Processing

Other *Explain in chart below

NSF

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

C. (3) Reasons for Denial on Appeal - "Other" Reasons from Section VI, C (2) Chart

 

Description of "Other" Reasons for Denial on Appeal from Chart C(2) & Number of Times Those Reasons Were Relied upon

TOTAL

NSF

 

0

OIG

 

0

C. (4) Response Time for Administrative Appeals

 

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Lowest Number of Days

Highest Number of Days

NSF

20

13

1

20

OIG

13

15

13

17

Agency Overall

17

14

1

20

C. (5) Ten Oldest Pending Administrative Appeals

 

 

10th Oldest Appeal

9th

8th

7th

6th

5th

4th

3rd

2nd

Oldest Appeal

NSF

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest Appeals

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

OIG

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest Appeals

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Agency Overall

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest Appeals

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

VII. FOIA REQUESTS: RESPONSE TIME FOR PROCESSED AND PENDING REQUESTS

A. Processed Requests - Response Time for All Processed Perfected Requests

 

SIMPLE

EXPEDITED

 

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Lowest Number of Days

Highest Number of Days

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Lowest Number of Days

Highest Number of Days

NSF

16

22

1

1825

8

21

6

41

OIG

14

13

1

20

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

15

20

1

1825

8

21

6

41

B. Processed Requests - Response Time for Perfected Requests in Which Information Was Granted

 

SIMPLE

EXPEDITED

 

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Lowest Number of Days

Highest Number of Days

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Lowest Number of Days

Highest Number of Days

NSF

17

24

1

1825

0

0

0

0

OIG

15

14

4

20

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

16

22

1

1825

0

0

0

0

C. Processed Requests - Response Time in Day Increments

Simple Requests

 

1-20 Days

21-40 Days

41-60 Days

61-80 Days

81-100 Days

101-120 Days

121-140 Days

141-160 Days

161-180 Days

181-200 Days

201-300 Days

301-400 Days

401+ Days

TOTAL

NSF

234

60

5

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

303

OIG

79

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

79

Agency Overall

313

60

5

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

382

Requests Granted Expedited Processing

 

1-20 Days

21-40 Days

41-60 Days

61-80 Days

81-100 Days

101-120 Days

121-140 Days

141-160 Days

161-180 Days

181-200 Days

201-300 Days

301-400 Days

401+ Days

TOTAL

NSF

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

D. Pending Requests - All Pending Perfected Requests

 

SIMPLE

EXPEDITED

 

Number Pending

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

Number Pending

Median Number of Days

Average Number of Days

NSF

16

10

18

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

16

10

18

0

0

0

E. Pending Requests - Ten Oldest Pending Perfected Requests

 

 

10th Oldest Request and Number of Days Pending

9th

8th

7th

6th

5th

4th

3rd

2nd

Oldest Request and Number of Days Pending

NSF

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest

9/18/2009

9/17/2009

9/11/2009

9/10/2009

9/9/2009

9/8/2009

9/8/2009

9/2/2009

8/31/2009

3/23/2009

Number of Days Pending

9

10

14

15

16

17

17

20

22

135

OIG

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Number of Days Pending

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

Perfected Date of Ten Oldest

9/18/2009

9/17/2009

9/11/2009

9/10/2009

9/9/2009

9/8/2009

9/8/2009

9/2/2009

8/31/2009

3/23/2009

Number of Days Pending

9

10

14

15

16

17

17

20

22

135

 

VIII. REQUESTS FOR EXPEDITED PROCESSING AND REQUESTS FOR FEE WAIVER

A. Requests for Expedited Processing

 

Number Granted

Number Denied

Median Number of Days to Adjudicate

Average Number of Days to Adjudicate

Number Adjudicated Within Ten Calendar Days

NSF

0

4

14

100

1

OIG

0

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

4

14

100

1

 

 

 

B. Requests for Fee Waiver

 

Number Granted

Number Denied

Median Number of Days to Adjudicate

Average Number of Days to Adjudicate

NSF

0

1

13

13

OIG

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

1

13

13

IX. FOIA PERSONNEL AND COSTS

 

PERSONNEL

COSTS

 

Number of "Full-Time FOIA Employees"

Number of "Equivalent Full-Time FOIA Employees"

Total Number of "Full-Time FOIA Staff"

Processing Costs

Litigation-Related Costs

Total Costs

NSF

0

3.6

3.6

320,000.00

0

320,000.00

OIG

0

0.23

0.23

29,224.00

0

29,224.00

Agency Overall

0

3.83

3.83

349,224.00

0

349,224.00

 

X. FEES COLLECTED FOR PROCESSING REQUESTS

 

Total Amount of Fees Collected

Percentage of Total Costs

NSF

1085.72

0.3

OIG

0

0

Agency Overall

1085.72

0.3

 

XI. FOIA REGULATIONS

http://www.nsf.gov/policies/ogc1009.pdf

XII. BACKLOGS, CONSULTATIONS, AND COMPARISONS

A. Backlogs of FOIA Requests and Administrative Appeals

 

Number of Backlogged Requests as of End of Fiscal Year

Number of Backlogged Appeals as of End of Fiscal Year

NSF

0

0

OIG

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

 

 

 

B. Consultations on FOIA Requests - Received, Processed, and Pending Consultations

 

Number of Consultation Received from Other Agencies that Were Pending at Your Agency as of Start of the Fiscal Year

Number of Consultations Received from Other Agencies During the Fiscal Year

Number of Consultations Received from Other Agencies that Were Processed by Your Agency During the Fiscal Year

Number of Consultations Received from Other Agencies that Were Pending at Your Agency as of End of the Fiscal Year

NSF

0

0

0

0

OIG

0

0

0

0

Agency Overall

0

0

0

0

 

C. Consultations on FOIA Requests - Ten Oldest Consultations Received from Other Agencies and Pending at Your Agency

 

 

10th Oldest Consultation and Number of Days Pending

9th

8th

7th

6th

5th

4th

3rd

2nd

Oldest Consultation

NSF

Oldest Consultation and Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

OIG

Oldest Consultation and Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

Agency Overall

Oldest Consultation and Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

Number of Days Pending

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N/A

D. Comparison of Numbers of Requests from Previous and Current Annual Report - Requests Received, Processed, and Backlogged

 

Number of Requests Received

Number of Requests Processed

 

Number Received During Fiscal Year from Last Year's Annual Report

Number Received During Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

Number Processed During Fiscal Year from Last Year's Annual Report

Number Processed During Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

NSF

314

318

315

302

OIG

39

77

37

77

Agency Overall

353

395

352

379

 

 

Number of Backlogged Requests as of End of the Fiscal year from Previous Annual Report

Number of Backlogged Requests as of End of the Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

NSF

1

0

OIG

0

0

Agency Overall

1

0

 

 

E. Comparison of Numbers of Administrative Appeals from Previous and Current Annual Report - Appeals Received, Processed, and Backlogged

1. Provide the number of administrative appeals received and the number of administrative appeals processed during the fiscal year from last year’s Annual Report and the number of those received and processed during the fiscal year from the current Annual Report.

 

NUMBER OF APPEALS RECEIVED

NUMBER OF APPEALS PROCESSED

 

Number Received During Fiscal Year from Last year's Annual Report

Number Received During Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

Number Processed During Fiscal Year from Last Year's Annual Report

Number Processed During Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

NSF

7

3

7

3

OIG

3

4

3

4

Agency Overall

10

7

10

7

2. Starting with the Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2009, provide the number of backlogged administrative appeals as of the end of the fiscal year from the previous Annual Report and the number of backlogged administrative appeals as of the end of the fiscal year from the current Annual Report.

 

Number of Backlogged Appeals as of End of the Fiscal year from Previous Annual Report

Number of Backlogged Appeals as of End of the Fiscal Year from Current Annual Report

NSF

0

0

OIG

0

0

Overall

0

0

F. Discussion of Other FOIA Activities (Optional)

1. Provide here any further information about the agency's efforts to improve FOIA administration.

  • During the 2009 reporting period the NSF developed an electronic FOIA tracking system that logs, tracks and reports NSF’s FOIA program.
  • NSF receives and replies to the majority of all FOIA requests electronically.
  • Most pending requests are due to receipt/perfected dates that fell toward the end of the 2009 reporting period, when the 20 working day response becomes due during the 2010 reporting period. 
  • NSF currently has no backlog.
  • NSF reports a significant number of withholdings under Exemption 6.  The majority of Foundation requests are for copies of funded grant proposals.  Most funded grant proposals would be released in full.  However, every proposal contains personal information that is protected under Exemption 6; thus the high number of citations to that exemption.
  • FOIA costs increased significantly this reporting period due to the development and implementation of the new electronic FOIA system.