5 oldest FOIA requests (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin)

Jason Smathers filed this request with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States of America.
Tracking # DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Status
Completed

Communications

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 records referencing the five oldest FOIA and Privacy Act requests which are still being processed that contain remarks, comments, notes, explanations, etc. made by your personnel or contractors about the processing of these requests (and appeals, if appropriate), the invocation of exemptions, or related matters. This is to include any analysts' notes made during the processing of the requests, any standard worksheets completed by the analysts, any justifications for exemption invocations or other supporting documentation provided to the Appeals Authority, and any correspondence referencing the requests, including tasking orders, emails, and coordination documentation. However, any records previously released to the original requesters in unredacted form may be excluded from this request. Additionally, please provide the initial request letters for the 5 oldest open FOIA/PA requests.

When processing this request, please note that the D.C. Circuit has previously held that agencies have a duty to construe the subject material of FOIA requests liberally to ensure responsive records are not overlooked. See Nation Magazine, Washington Bureau v. U.S. Customs Service, 71 F.3d 885, 890 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Accordingly, you are hereby instructed that the term “record” includes, but is not limited to: 1) all email communications to or from any individual within your agency; 2) memoranda; 3) inter-agency communications; 4) sound recordings; 5) tape recordings; 6) video or film recordings; 7) photographs; 8) notes; 9) notebooks; 10) indices; 11) jottings; 12) message slips; 13) letters or correspondence; 14) telexes; 15) telegrams; 16) facsimile transmissions; 17) statements; 18) policies; 19) manuals or binders; 20) books; 21) handbooks; 22) business records; 23) personnel records; 24) ledgers; 25) notices; 26) warnings; 27) affidavits; 28) declarations under penalty of perjury; 29) unsworn statements; 30) reports; 31) diaries; or 32) calendars, regardless of whether they are handwritten, printed, typed, mechanically or electronically recorded or reproduced on any medium capable of conveying an image, such as paper, CDs, DVDs, or diskettes.

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.

Sincerely,

Jason Smathers
Filed via MuckRock.com
E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com
Daytime: (617) 299-1832
For mailed responses, please address:
MuckRock
185 Beacon St. #3
Somerville, MA 02143

From: Jason Smathers

Hello,

The FOIA request below was submitted in December 2010, but according to our records never completed. Please advise?

Please note the change in MuckRock's address:

MuckRock News
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

Thank you.

From: FOIA Office - NOAA Service Account

Hello,

This request does not appear in FOIAonline so I assume it was closed prior
to my tenure at NOAA. Do you have a tracking number to check against an
older database?

If not, you may submit your request through FOIAonline at

From: Jason Smathers

Hello,

I hereby resubmit the FOIA request below, which was originally submitted in 2010 but was never acknowledged.

Thank you.

============

From Jason Smathers on Dec. 13, 2010:
To Whom It May Concern:

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

All records referencing the five oldest FOIA and Privacy Act requests which are still being processed that contain remarks, comments, notes, explanations, etc. made by your personnel or contractors about the processing of these requests (and appeals, if appropriate), the invocation of exemptions, or related matters. This is to include any analysts' notes made during the processing of the requests, any standard worksheets completed by the analysts, any justifications for exemption invocations or other supporting documentation provided to the Appeals Authority, and any correspondence referencing the requests, including tasking orders, emails, and coordination documentation. However, any records previously released to the original requesters in unredacted form may be excluded from this request. Additionally, please provide the initial request letters for the 5 oldest open FOIA/PA requests.

When processing this request, please note that the D.C. Circuit has previously held that agencies have a duty to construe the subject material of FOIA requests liberally to ensure responsive records are not overlooked. See Nation Magazine, Washington Bureau v. U.S. Customs Service, 71 F.3d 885, 890 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Accordingly, you are hereby instructed that the term “record” includes, but is not limited to: 1) all email communications to or from any individual within your agency; 2) memoranda; 3) inter-agency communications; 4) sound recordings; 5) tape recordings; 6) video or film recordings; 7) photographs; 8) notes; 9) notebooks; 10) indices; 11) jottings; 12) message slips; 13) letters or correspondence; 14) telexes; 15) telegrams; 16) facsimile transmissions; 17) statements; 18) policies; 19) manuals or binders; 20) books; 21) handbooks; 22) business records; 23) personnel records; 24) ledgers; 25) notices; 26) warnings; 27) affidavits; 28) declarations under penalty of perjury; 29) unsworn statements; 30) reports; 31) diaries; or 32) calendars, regardless of whether they are handwritten, printed, typed, mechanically or electronically recorded or reproduced on any medium capable of conveying an image, such as paper, CDs, DVDs, or diskettes.

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.

Sincerely,

Jason Smathers

Filed via MuckRock.com
E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com

For mailed responses, please address:
MuckRock News
Dept MR350
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

From: FOIA Office - NOAA Service Account

The NOAA FOIA Office uses FOIAonline* which is located at:
https://foiaonline.regulations.gov

Please choose one of these options:

1) Enter your request into FOIAonline as a Guest or establish an account
2) Reply to this email that you prefer to have the NOAA FOIA Office staff
copy and paste your request into FOIAonline for you. This means that you
will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of FOIAonline*.

Your request will not be processed until you select one. Please let us
know if you have any questions.

*FOIAonline is a multi-agency FOIA tracking and processing system which
provides a single interface through which you may submit requests to NOAA
and other participating agencies. FOIAonline will automatically provide
tracking numbers for requests. Registered users may view the status of all
your requests online, eliminating the wait time for replies from agency
staff. It will provide NOAA a convenient place to post FOIA documents in
electronic format after they have been released to the requester. Many
users will choose to search these records before filing requests in the
future.

From: Jason Smathers

Hello,

Please copy and past this request into FOIAonline.

Thank you.

From: FOIA Office - NOAA Service Account

Good morning,

Is Jason Smathers still the contact person? If not, send the name of the
current person. Your new address is noted.

Also, please clearly define the first part of the request. The first two
sentences are unclear. The initial FOIA request letters will be provided.
There are no pending PA requests.

From: FOIA Office - NOAA Service Account

Hello,

Still waiting for a reply to the email below.

From: Jason Smathers

Hello,

Yes, the request is signed by Jason Smathers.

This is a request for the 5 oldest FOIA requests still open in the NOAA FOIA office, including both the request letters and any processing notes associated with the request.

Thank you.

From: foia@noaa.gov

This message is to confirm your request submission to the FOIAonline application: View Request. Request information is as follows: (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2800bb473)
* Tracking Number: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
* Requester Name: Jason Smathers
* Date Submitted: Tue Sep 03 00:00:00 EDT 2013
* Request Status: Submitted
* Description:
This is a request for the 5 oldest FOIA requests still open in the NOAA FOIA office, including both the request letters and any processing notes associated with the request.

From: foia@noaa.gov

09/18/2013 09:53 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503

Please see attached letter.

From: Jason Smathers

This is not a commercial request. I have absolutely no commercial interests in making this request. Please provide a corrected fee estimate keeping this in mind.

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

10/24/2013 01:48 PM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers: I have not yet been able to determine MuckRock's status for purposes of fee assessments under FOIA.  The Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (Guide) states that agency employees are encouraged to ask requesters for additional information when the fee category is not clear and I am asking that you provide me with any additional information that you think will be helpful. The reason I concluded that MuckRock is a commercial requester is based on my review of your web page at MuckRock.com where it seems that you make FOIA requests for third parties for a fee. Is this correct?  If not, which category do you think is appropriate for this request and why? Please refer to the section in the Guide on Fee and Fee Waivers, updated on August 23, 2013, ( http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia-guide13/fees-feewaivers.pdf#p2-2 ), which explains the different categories of requesters and the factors for determining these categories.  Department of Commerce regulations ( http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/foia/fees.html ) also provide a complete explanation of the different fee categories. You have several options: 1) pay the fee that I originally assessed and we will process your request or 2) you can provide additional information that you believe will be useful in allowing us to consider MuckRock in a different fee category for this request. Please note that if I do not hear back from you by November 15, 2013 I will administratively close this request. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you. Wendy Schumacher

From: Jason Smathers

I am a user of MuckRock and not the owner or otherwise affiliated. MuckRock provides a platform to keep track of FOIA requests and automate certain aspects of communication and tracking of pending requests. Whether or not I pay for such a service should not be considered in the determining of a fee category. You are dealing with me, an individual who is a customer of MuckRock, not MuckRock itself. Considering a MuckRock user a commercial requester make no more sense than charging all Microsoft Office users because they use Microsoft Excel to keep track of pending FOIA requests.

I suggest the fee category of news media as I will be writing a story on old FOIA requests and FOIA processing time and publishing it to the general public. I have made this same request to dozens of agencies and am going to be comparing the agencies and their customer service with FOIA sequesters in this article.

Further, rather than making paper copies, I prefer that you email documents to avoid wasted paper, ink, and postage. If the file is too large for that, there are many file transfer options available such as DropBox. If electronic transmission of the records is not possible, the next best option is to mail a CD, which is still far better than paper in regard to economic and ecological impacts.

Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: foia@noaa.gov

10/31/2013 01:25 PM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers: Thank you for your response and I agree that this is not a "Commercial" request. However, I still need additional information in order to classify this as a "Media" request.  Please show how the request is consistent with the Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act guidance ( http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia-guide13/fees-feewaivers.pdf#p2-2 starting on page 5, paragraph 2).  Links to webpages as examples of your work would also be appreciated. Alternatively, if you wish to be considered under the "Other" category the fee estimate is $99.06 for approximately two hours of search time and 140 pages of duplication .  If the actual charges are under this amount the balance can be refunded to you. Please note that if I do not hear back from you or receive by November 20, 2013 a check in the amount of $99.06, payable to the Treasury of the United States, I will administratively close this request.  You are, of course, free to submit a new request. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you,
Wendy Schumacher

From: Jason Smathers

I am happy to provide more information if needed. However, to save time, it seems that "other" may be sufficient. "Other" users get two hours of search time for free and 100 pages of duplication for free. I'd rather you email records, but it seems that if paper copies are mailed, that the only billable fees would be for 40 pages.

FYI~ for the sake of simplicity, I consented to the "other" fee category on dozens of exactly worded requests to various agencies and in all cases the search time and pages were under the billable limits, thus no agency has charged for this identical request.

From: foia@noaa.gov

11/01/2013 02:08 PM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503

Please see attached letter.

From: Jason Smathers

Please conduct your search beginning with the oldest request and proceeding based on age of request. Please limit the search to the records found within the first two hours of search time. I agree to pay for duplication expenses up to $13 for any pages located over the first 100. If the fee is anticipated to exceed $13, please contact me before proceeding.

Thank you!

Regards,
Jason Smathers

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

12/02/2013 02:47 PM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers,
Here is the status update.

The staff people assigned to processing your request completed the two hours of search time for which you will not be charged as a requester in the "Other" fee category. If any processing related records are located, and are releasable, those will be made available to you through FOIAonline at a later date.

The minimum charge for processing a FOIA request at NOAA is $20 and your written assurance of $13 is below that amount. Therefore, I will need your written assurance that you will pay the fee estimate in my letter dated November 1, 2013, which asks for written assurance in the amount of $60.67 to conduct a third hour of search.  If you do not provide written assurance by December 18, 2013, the request will be closed after the release of the five oldest letters and, if any, processing related records which can be released located within the 2 hours of search.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher

From: Jason Smathers

Because this request is three years old, I believe you should process the third hour at no charge. I believe you will find that the most recent amendment to the FOIA prohibits search fees to "other" requesters if the statutory time limits are not met.

Please let me know if you are agreeable to this.

Thank you.

Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: foia@noaa.gov

01/10/2014 07:35 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503

Dear Mr. Smathers:

We do not have any record of your December 2010 request being entered in the NOAA tracking system. Therefore, we are using the date that your request was received and entered into the FOIAonline system, which was September 3, 2013. On September 18, 2013, I sent you a fee estimate regarding your request, which stopped the clock on the processing of your request pursuant to Department of Commerce regulations at 15 Code of Federal Regulations section 4.11. Since then, you and I have exchanged messages regarding the proper fee category for your request and other fee issues. As a result, the processing of your request is within the statutory time limit.
I confirmed that staff are working on your request and you should receive a response in the near future. Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

02/10/2014 07:48 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers,
The NOAA Staff person searching for processing notes has not yet provided them to me.  I plan to be in his building on February 11, 2014, and will follow up in person.

Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher


NOAA FOIA Office
(301) 628-5658 or (301) 713-3540

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

03/14/2014 07:57 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers,
The NOAA Staff person searching for processing notes has not yet provided them to me. I met the office staff responsible for providing the notes on March 11 and expect them to complete this task in the near future.

Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher


NOAA FOIA Office
(301) 628-5658 or (301) 713-3540

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

04/15/2014 08:15 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
This is a follow up to request number DOC-NOAA- 2013-001503 (tel:2013-001503)
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA- 2013-001503 (tel:2013-001503)
Thank you for your help.
Mr. Smathers,
The NOAA Staff person searching for processing notes did not provide them to me prior to leaving that office. Another person has been asked to complete the search.
Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

05/15/2014 07:46 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503

Mr. Smathers,

I am scheduled to meet the new person who will work on the part of your request regarding processing notes on May 21, 2014.  If you are no longer interested in the processing notes please let me know by email to foia@noaa.gov.

Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher, NOAA FOIA Officer
--------- Forwarded message ----------

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 Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503.

Thank you for your help.

From: foia@noaa.gov

06/16/2014 10:27 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503

Mr. Smathers,
I spoke to the person who needs to complete the search on June 12, 2014, and he promised to do so early this week.  I hope to close this request in a few days.
Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher




RE: Freedom of Information Request #DOC-NOAA-2013-001503


Inbox















Jason Smathers 5:00 AM (5 hours ago)

to me





June 16, 2014 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jean Carter-Johnson
FOIA/PA Officer
Room 10641, SSMC-3
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3281
This is a follow up to request number DOC-NOAA-
2013-001503: (tel:2013-001503)
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 20, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.  You had assigned it reference number #DOC-NOAA-
2013-001503. (tel:2013-001503)
Thank you for your help.
---
On May 15, 2014:
05/15/2014 07:46 AM FOIA Request: DOC-NOAA-2013-001503
Mr. Smathers,
I am scheduled to meet the new person who will work on the part of your request regarding processing notes on May 21, 2014.  If you are no longer interested in the processing notes please let me know by email to
foia@noaa.gov. (mailto:foia@noaa.gov)
Sincerely, Wendy Schumacher, NOAA FOIA Officer

From: foia@noaa.gov

DOC-NOAA-2013-001503 has been processed with the following final disposition: Partial grant/partial denial.
Records were released to the public as a result of this request. You may retrieve these records immediately using the following link: View Records.Over the next 2 hours, these records are also being added to FOIAonline's search pages, further enabling you to retrieve these documents associated with your FOIA request at any time. (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2800bb473)
Please see attached letter.

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