So back in March I submitted a FOIA request for a report submitted to the IMLS in May 2003. I already had an IMLS report that a colleague had FOIA’ed, and the report I FOIA’ed was cited in that report.

And here’s where this story becomes a comedy of errors. What did the IMLS send me? The same report I already had. Oops. The two reports have similar titles, & they were both written in 2003 by the same consulting group, so I can see how this error could get made. But I mean really. So I tried again & submitted a new FOIA request, this time containing more detail.

Now, about a month later, my request was denied. The reason given for this was:

The IMLS FOIA Officer has determined that in accordance with FOIA guidelines, the report that you have requested is being withheld pursuant to FOIA Exemption 5, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5), which protects agency information which is predecisional or part of a deliberative process.

This annoys me. I’m sure this report was written for IMLS use only. And given the content, it may have 5,000 pages of appendices, & so would be some trouble to copy & send. But it’s also 5 years old, so even if it was “predecisional or part of a deliberative process,” those decisions surely have already been made. But of course we’ll never know, since apparently the FOIA does not require providing any information on what the decision actually is.

You tax dollars at work.