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Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) manages one of the largest backlogs of complicated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests due to its role in oversight of the financial sector. Specifically, SEC required full FOIA Program support services:

  • Review program records for responsiveness and suggest releasibility determinations.
  • Prepare records for release, including the redaction of materials to be withheld, and duplicating materials as necessary.
  • Also, released materials do not contain information exempted under the applicable statutes or other non-releasable information.
  • Furthermore, apply appropriate exemptions to documents responsive to FOIA requests.
  • Maintain cases and case files following established procedures and timelines.

Backlog of Difficult FOIA Cases in Need of Expert Review

Most SEC FOIA cases are highly complex, voluminous, and sensitive. SEC was also frequently faced requests that required extensive research. Consequently, this inevitably led to a decreased output of processed FOIA requests. Due to this level of complexity, the SEC required an expert-level opinion that could provide analysis services. The SEC further needed the assistance of a contractor to perform FOIA support services to assist the SEC by performing FOIA releasability reviews for the public, apply the nine FOIA exemptions as applicable, and provide redactions to documents that are responsive to FOIA requests.

Xentity provided complex and large analysis of FOIA and administrative support for 4 divisions of the SEC. Xentity staff provided processing support for numerous documents and consequently established themselves as a trusted, high-performing partner of the SEC. Specifically, team provided:

Processing / Redacting RequestsPerformance Metrics SupportAdministrative Duties
Respondent Data and information

Program / Litigation Risk Analysis

Support Strategic Decision Making

Case Inquiry Tracking

Coordinate Case Responses

Coordinate / Support Appeals

Records Management / Tracking

General Correspondence

Special Project Assignments

Administer / Manage FOIA Cases

Process FOIA Cases

Strategic Plan Support

Program Financial Analysis

Review Applicable Guidelines / Laws

Draft Notices, Coordinate Security

Implement Backlog Reductions

Conduct Training

Conduct Research as Needed

Draft Letters & Communiques

Conference / Call / Meeting Support

Update Designated RM Systems

Deliver Case Files

Prepare Monthly Attendance

Review Closure Checklists

The Solution

To reach the solution, Xentity had to provide Senior FOIA Analyst Services to the SEC. Specifically, we processed and tracked the FOIA request correspondence, supported responses to FOIA requests, tracked the process through client support for final decisions, supported FOIA leadership in providing direct support functions for drafting memos and and prepared responses to FOIA requests.

Throughout this project, Xentity performed initial analysis to determine FOIA request validity and assure requests were accurately and fairly addressed. This specifically included evaluating compliance, scope, reasonable, fee, processing time. Xentity also supported dispute resolution and appeals of requests for expedition and fee waivers. Furthermore, we provided FOIA recommendations and guidance to SEC leadership to support legal interpretations of the FOIA as it affected exemptions and release of documents, among other related topics including drafting response detailing review and determination and initial analysis of submitter objections. And we developed plans, evaluate efficiencies while ensuring compliance, modify processes, improving performance, prepare communications and training to improve the process.

Exceptional Service and High Metrics

The Xentity team has realized a great deal of measurable accomplishments during this contract. The SEC FOIA Services Team received the “Exceptional Service” award from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in both 2017 and 2018.  Also, the team reached a 94% Request Closure rate for FOIA-related. In that time we also closed 7856 cases in total from 4/6/2016 to 12/14/2018. Xentity also processed over 20,000 CT scans from 4/7/2017 to 4/6/2018. Consequently, SEC found a helpful partner in processing a voluminous amount of complex FOIA requests. And as a law designed to grant the general public information upon request, these actions also granted new information and documents to those who desired it.