2013 Sebelius emails on Murnaghan (HHS)

Jason Smathers filed this request with the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States of America.
Tracking #




From: Jason Smathers

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

All emails to or from Sebelius which contain the name "Murnaghan" where the email was sent in the year 2013. Please include attachments to these emails in the responsive records.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Jason Smathers

From: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Request Number : 14-0067

This acknowledges your Freedom of Information Act request received in this Office on the above date. We have asked the appropriate action Office(s) to send the requested records to us for review.

Your request has been assigned a case number based on the date of its receipt in this office and is being processed as expeditiously as possible. Pursuant to Departmental regulations, 43 CFR Part 5 Subpart D, charges can be made if applicable. The actual processing time will depend on the complexity of your request and whether sensitive records, voluminous records, extensive search, and/or consultation with other HHS components or other executive branch agencies are involved. These agencies will provide a direct response to you. There may be a charge for those records and, in some cases, the charges may be substantial.

You may contact this office by phone at (202) 690-7453, at any time concerning your request. When making an inquiry, we request that you please refer to the FOIA Request Number above.

From: MuckRock


Thank you for clarifying. This is the appropriate email inbox for request 2014-0067.

Thank you for your help and attention.

From: Wilkinson, Elizabeth (HHS/ASPA)

To Whom It May Concern

The purpose of this email is to open discussion regarding the scope of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Case # 2014-0067, submitted to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in October 2013.

The scope, as stated in your request includes; “All email to or from Sebelius which contain the name “Murnaghan” where the email was sent in the year 2013. Please include the attachments to these emails in the responsive records.”

The Immediate Office of the Secretary has done an initial review of this request and has informed the FOIA office of its enormity. HHS received an extraordinarily large number of emails which contained the name Murnaghan. It is estimated to exceed 10,000.

The search, retrieval, reviews, & subsequent redaction processes for a scope of this size, promises to take a long processing time, quite possibly longer than a year. In addition, many of those emails were communications with private citizens; which would require all of the personal identifying information to be removed. Simply stated, this is an enormous request.

In order to facilitate faster processing of your request, I am requesting that Muckrock News reduce its scope on this request. I recommend removing all e-mails sent by private citizens to the Secretary from the scope of your request. This would allow you to still receive substantive e-mails to or from the Secretary, while removing extraneous e-mails that would not shed light on the operations of the government.

Please contact me via email with your response and any questions you may have.


Elizabeth Wilkinson

From: Jason Smathers

Elizabeth Wilkinson,

Thank you for informing me of the challenges in this request. I am happy to help in reducing the scope while ensuring I receive the intended information.

You may limit this request by:
1) excluding all private emails FROM private citizens and
2) In emails responded to with a form letter, you may include only one of each unique form letter used instead of having to provide duplicates.

Please let me know if this is sufficient. To be clear, this modification still includes responses from HHS to individuals where that response contains the name Murnaghan if that response is not a form letter (providing only one of each form letter).


From: Wilkinson, Elizabeth (HHS/ASPA)

Hi Jason Smathers - The purpose of this email is to let you know that we received and accepted your agreement to narrow your scope on case # 2014-0067.

Please keep this email chain for your records as it now reflects the newly narrowed scope for this case.

Thank you for your quick response, I appreciate it.

Elizabeth Wilkinson

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 19, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-0067.

Thank you for your help.

From: Daley, Garfield (HHS/ASPA)

Hello. Attached are the response letter and responsive records to your FOIA request.

Garfield Daley
Acting FOIA Director
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Office of Secretary (OS)
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Switzer Bldg, Room 2208
Phone: (202) 690-8055
Fax: (202) 690-8320