The International Revenue Service “has been mishandling Freedom of Information Act requests, withholding information from nearly 600 requests in fiscal year 2012 alone,” according to a recent government audit. The Daily Caller,
The audit reviewed “a statistically valid sample” of FOIA and Privacy Act requests and found that 16.4 percent “may have” violated taxpayer rights because “the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to requestors.”
Of the 12,198 FOIA and Privacy Act requests processed in Fiscal Year 2012, 24 percent were denied outright–a 20 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. 118 requests were still backlogged at the end of FY 2012, despite the IRS having hired 21 new “disclosure specialists” to combat the backlog that year. As of June 2013, the backlog had increased to 122.
The report, conducted by the Treasury Inspector General, estimates that “approximately 559 FOIA/Privacy Act requests may have had information erroneously withheld,” based on the sample they reviewed. “We expect the number of requests that had information erroneously withheld to range from 265 to 984 requests.” This is a dramatic increase from previous years–in 2012, the IG found that information was improperly withheld from just 3.3 percent of requests.