WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration couldn't keep pace with the increasing number of people asking for copies of government documents, emails, photographs and more under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press.

Federal agencies did better last year trying to fulfill requests, but still fell further behind with backlogs, due mostly to surges in immigration records requested from the Homeland Security Department. It released all or portions of the information that citizens, journalists, businesses and others sought at about the same rate as the previous two years. The AP analyzed figures over the past three years from 37 of the largest federal departments and agencies.

There was progress. The government responded to more requests than ever in 2011: more than 576,000, up 5 percent from 2010. Offices less frequently cited legal provisions that allow them to keep records secret, especially emails and documents describing how federal officials make important decisions. Agencies took less time on average to turn over records: about one month for requests it considered "simple" and about three months for more complicated ones. And 23 of 37 agencies reduced their individual backlogs of requests or kept buildups from increasing.

The government's responsiveness under the Freedom of Information Act is widely viewed as a barometer of transparency. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of most federal records.

Sunshine Week, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information, began Sunday.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

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