Rose Mary's Baby: FBI Named Worst at 'Losing' Files

Agency comes up empty on 2 of every 3 requests
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2009 3:20 AM CDT
National Security Archive director Tom Blanton, center, examines CIA documents. The NSA is a private group that publishes declassified government documents.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – "We never find our files" might be an apt motto for the FBI, according to a damning report from the National Security Archive. The private institution awarded the FBI its "Rosemary Award" for the worst Freedom of Information Act performance of any federal agency. It fails to fulfill record requests from the public two out of three times. The award is named for Richard Nixon's secretary Rose Mary Woods, who claimed to have accidentally erased recordings of Watergate conversations.

The FBI blames the unflattering statistics on people requesting their own FBI records when none exist, reports AP. But the NSA report slams the agency's “deliberate” use of limited and outdated search processes. The FBI fails to use modern tools that scan for every name in an electronically indexed document, the NSA notes—a process that it believes must thwart the agents themselves as well as FOIA searchers.