Fedscoop reports on the delays at HUD and how its capability to search for electronic records is too slow - a finding made by the agency's inspector general. According to the story, electronic records searches go through a process in which the requester office asks the general counsels office for permission and then the third party vendor conducts the search. Since the contract with the third party was made, the number of requests (not just those for FOIA requests) have increased. Further, their are technical struggles as well in finding the information. As such the agency struggles to keep up and FOIA requests are delayed. The contract is up soon and according to the article, the agency hopes to come up with better ways to conduct electronic searches.
This is a records management issue. Prior to electronic records, records management was basically keeping track of paper files and knowing when to dispose of them or send them to NARA. In the digital age, records management has become a much more important area of administration in agencies and FOIA is increasingly impacted by a lack of strong records management protocols. Of course, if an agency can't find electronically stored records, the actual business of the agency is impacted, not just the FOIA. That is why these issues should be at the top of all agency heads to-do list.