manner, defendant applies FIFO on a national basis. Plaintiff has not shown that defendant's four-month delay in assigning her request a place in line under the national FIFO system is intrinsic to defendant's system of referring requests to FBIHQ. Moreover, plaintiff has not shown an exceptional need for the information requested which would require defendant to process her request out of turn. The publication date of a projected article has been held not to constitute exceptional need. Lisee v. CIA, 741 F. Supp. 988 (D.D.C. 1990); Summers v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 733 F. Supp. 443 (D.D.C. 1989), appeal dismissed, 288 U.S. App. D.C. 219, 925 F.2d 450 (D.C.Cir. 1991). As to plaintiff's desire to submit the material to Congress, Congress has alternative means of obtaining this information. Plaintiff's desire to inform the public, while commendable, does not constitute an exceptional need. Since almost every request can be linked to such a desire, granting expedited treatment for that purpose would allow the exception to swallow the rule.
Defendant also exhibited due diligence in responding to plaintiff's request by releasing approximately 1300 pages of information about Cyrus Hashemi as soon as it had processed these documents rather than withholding them until it had completed the processing of plaintiff's entire request. See Open America, 547 F.2d at 618 (Leventhal, J., concurring).
Finally, moving plaintiff's request to the front of the line would displace other requests, some of which may be for information which is more urgently needed. Absent a showing of exceptional need on the part of plaintiff, it is unfair to prejudice other requesters. See Caifano v. Wampler, 588 F. Supp. 1392, 1394 (N.D.Ill. 1984).
Defendant has established that it faces exceptional circumstances in that it has a substantial backlog even though it processes requests as quickly as possible within its financial ability. Defendant also has shown that it processes requests with due diligence; it processes FOIA requests on a FIFO basis except where there is an urgent need for the information. Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate an urgent need for the information, and FIFO appears to be the fairest method of processing requests that are not urgent.
Plaintiff is entitled, however, to a place in the line based on the date her request was first received at the New York field office, May 7, 1991. Defendant states that if plaintiff's request had been assigned a processing number on May 7 rather than August 23, she would have received a number which was approximately 4,000 lower than the number she received. (12/21/92 Turner Decl. P 7.) Defendant maintains that because of the previous responsibilities of the paralegal to whom plaintiff's request was assigned, a lower number would not have affected the timing of the processing of plaintiff's request. Id. If plaintiff's request had been assigned a processing number in early May, it is possible that her request would have been assigned to a different paralegal with a lighter workload. Defendant points out that plaintiff's request was assigned to a paralegal who was already involved in processing other records relating to Hashemi. Id. at P 8. However, it is not clear that the paralegal already had begun processing those records before May 7, 1991, and therefore would have received plaintiff's request if it had been assigned a processing number on that date. Accordingly, to assure that plaintiff receives her rightful place in line as of the date on which her request was received at the New York field office, defendant is instructed to determine which paralegal would have been assigned plaintiff's request on May 7, 1991 and to have that paralegal process plaintiff's request before processing any requests that were assigned to that paralegal after May 7, 1991.
For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion for a stay is granted. Defendant is directed to process plaintiff's request with due diligence and in accordance with the instructions of this court. Defendant is also directed to submit progress reports to the court every 60 days.
Dated: New York, New York
June 2, 1993
MIRIAM GOLDMAN CEDARBAUM
United States District Judge