The Department of Health & Human Services has updated its Freedom of Information Act regulations in efforts to process more of the backlog and address response time.
Kevin Griffis, HHS assistant secretary for public affairs, wrote in a blog post published Friday the department worked to reduce backlog of FOIA requests by 77 percent from 19,351 in fiscal year 2008 to 4,519 in FY 2016.
Sixty-seven percent or 24,386 requests were processed within the 20-workday statutory timeframe, Griffis added.
HHS will also publish statistics on open and pending FOIA requests online beginning January to support transparency and accountability, the blog post stated.
Griffis noted HHS receives the fourth largest number of FOIA requests annually out of 100 executive branch agencies and in 2009, the department ranked near the bottom among federal agencies in terms of overdue request backlog and average response time.
HHS last updated its FOIA regulations in November 1988.