State Department gets a “D”, and is getting worse”

Cause of Action’s 2015 Grading the Government Report Card assigns grades to all 15 cabinet departments for their average response times in fiscal year 2014 to requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Eleven out of the fifteen agencies received a “C” or worse letter grade, with the Departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, and Education each receiving an “F” because they failed to comply with FOIA in submitting the required information. The State Department, which recently displayed its flawed approach to records retention in connection with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, received a “D” grade.

“Our oversight mission – which focuses on transparency, and accountability in the Federal government – depends upon agency compliance with FOIA,” said Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein. “Based on our findings over the past three years, Cause of Action has no reason to believe that agency performance under FOIA has improved, which is simply unacceptable to taxpayers who deserve a government that operates in the open.”


Cause of Action assigned letter grades to each agency by comparing information reported in annual agency reports against the required response time under the law. Seven agencies – the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Justice – received a “C” or “D” grade; only the Departments of the Interior, Veteran Affairs, Commerce, and Labor received an “A” or “B” grade.

Interestingly, Cause of Action’s reports over the past three years show that the State Department’s efforts are getting worse, and that the Treasury Department continues to be among the worst agencies on this issue.