Communications between NPS and GOP members of Congress re LWCF

Donald Triplett III filed this request with the National Park Service of the United States of America.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Donald Triplett III

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Copies of all communications between Republican current and former members of Congress and the National Park Service from 2009 to the present asking the National Park Service to consider using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund program to support a project in their district. (A similar FOIA request was made in 2014, and given tracking number NPS-2014-00178.)

I request a fee waiver for this request as the requested documents will be made available to the general public, and will be disseminated via press releases and newsletters to members of the public who would be interested in the subject matter. This request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that my request for a fee waiver is denied, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request should the fees be estimated to exceed $100. 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,

Donald Triplett, III

From: NPS FOIA

United States Department of the Interior
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, Colorado 80225-0287

February 5, 2016

A7221 (2550)

Donald Triplett III
c/o MuckRock
Dept. MR 22243
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

Dear Mr. Triplett:

Reference: Land and Water Conservation Fund

Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request NPS-2016-00320

This letter is in reference to the FOIA request you filed on February 5, 2016, in which you requested:

Copies of all communications between Republican current and former members of Congress and the National Park Service from 2009 to the present asking the National Park Service to consider using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund program to support a project in their district. (A similar FOIA request was made in 2014, and given tracking number NPS-2014-00178.)

In your request you had also requested a statutory fee waiver. In accordance with 43 CFR 2.45(a)(1) the National Park Service will grant a fee waiver when disclosing the information is:

1. In the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations or activities, and

2. Not primarily in your commercial interest.

In determining whether your request is in the public interest, the National Park Service considered the following criteria:

(1) How the records concern the operations or activities of the Federal government,
(2) How disclosure is likely to contribute to public understanding of those operations or activities,
(3) How disclosure is likely to significantly contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to your individual understanding, and
(4) How the public's understanding of the subject in question will be enhanced to a significant extent by the disclosure.

The records you have requested relate to the processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by National Park Service employees. Accordingly, your request meets the first public interest criterion.

In your request you failed to provide information documenting that you have the skills or abilities to analyze or disseminate the requested information in such a manner so as to be informative to a reasonably broad audience. Additionally, while you state that you intend to disseminate the information via press releases and newsletters to the public, you provided no information documenting that doing so would contribute significantly to the public understanding of NPS FOIA operations and activities through dissemination of the information provided. We are therefore unable to determine how the release of this information to you would be likely to contribute to the public’s understanding of the operations or activities of the National Park Service rather than your personal understanding. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the second criterion.

Your request for a fee waiver request also failed to address whether and to what degree the information you are requesting has been previously released. However, a review of our files indicates that NPS-2014-00178, which you specifically reference in your request, was submitted by Phil Taylor, an EE News / Greenwire reporter, who subsequently wrote an April 2014 article about this topic. It is therefore unclear how releasing the information you have requested would significantly contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons, as opposed to your own understanding. Accordingly your request fails to meet the third criterion.

For similar reasons, it also fails to meet the fourth criterion. We have no information indicating that releasing the information would be primarily in your commercial interest.

In order to grant a fee waiver, the applicant’s request must meet all of the requirements listed above. Because your request fails to meet all four criteria your request for a fee waiver is denied.

Pursuant to regulation, 43 CFR 2.47 the following person is responsible for this decision:

Charis Wilson
NPS FOIA Officer

Additionally the following attorney was consulted during the preparation of this response:

Jason Waanders, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

We have placed you in the OTHER fee category, which entitles you to two free hours and up to 100 free pages of copies. We can provide you with copies of the materials that were located and released in response to NPS-2014-00178 as part of your two free hours of search time. These materials will be sent to you via our external FTP site as the file exceeds the attachment size limit for our e-mail system. Although the NPS-2014-00178 file totals 269 pages of responsive records, we are not charging you for the cost of the additional 169 pages, beyond the 100 free pages you are entitled to, as the copy charges come to $25.35, which is less than the $50 threshold for charging fees.

Please note, the materials being provided were located during a search of our Document Tracking System (DTS), which is used to track Congressional correspondence. That system does not track party affiliation, so the results contain all copies of all Congressional correspondence relating to LWCF and not just that submitted by Republican officials. We also be sending separately another document, which will consist of Congressional correspondence supporting LWCF projects that was received after NPS-2014-00178 was processed, however, at this time we do not have a page count for those materials.

We have determined that the estimated costs to search the files of each regional Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Congressional Affairs office for potentially responsive records, will exceed both the two free hours you are entitled to and the $100 you stated you were willing to pay. We are currently estimating that the costs to continue searching for potentially responsive records come to $609, which was calculated as follows:

16 hours search time = (2 hours / region and Washington Office)
-1.5 Remaining Free Search Time (DTS 2014 – 2016 Search)
14.5 search hours
$42/hour (Professional Rate)
$609 Total Estimated Search costs

This estimate is only for search costs. We are unable to estimate at this time the volume of potentially responsive records. The actual search costs could exceed this amount. Because the estimated fees exceed $250 and we do not show any history of your having paid FOIA fees in the past, we are required under 43 CFR 2.50 to collect payment for the full amount before we can begin processing your request. If you are still interested in obtaining these records, please make your check payable to the National Park Service and mail it, along with a copy of this letter, to my attention at the address above.

Should you elect to pay this amount and we determine that the actual search costs will exceed this estimate we will process your request up to the $525 amount. At which time we will stop processing your request and will provide you with an estimate of the remaining search charges. Should the actual search time come to less than this amount the difference will be refunded to you. In accordance with 43 CFR 2.51 if we do not hear from you in writing within 20 workdays, we will assume you are no longer interested in this matter and will close the file on your request.

Please note, you have the right to modify your request in order to reduce the estimated fees, for example limiting your request to a single fiscal year or specific geographic area, such as the Congressional Affairs offices in Washington. You also have the right to appeal this fee waiver determination, if your request has been denied and our fee estimate, if you feel it has been incorrectly calculated. You may file an appeal by writing to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeals Officer
Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
MS-6556-MIB,
Washington, D.C. 20240
foia.appeals@sol.doi.gov

Your appeal must be received no later than 30 workdays after the date of this response. The appeal should be marked, both on the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL." Your appeal should be accompanied by a copy of your original request and copies of all correspondence between yourself and the National Park Service related to this request, along with any information you have which leads you to believe our decision is in error. Please note appeals received after 5 p.m. EST will be considered to have been received as of the following day.

Also as part of the 2007 OPEN Government Act FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation.

You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
Room 2510
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

E-mail: ogis@nara.gov
Phone: 301-837-1996
Fax: 301-837-0348
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions or concerns. I can be reached at the address above or by phone at 303-969-2959. I can also be reached via e-mail at charis_wilson@nps.gov.

Sincerely,

C.​

____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, Ph.D., CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: National Park Service

You have received 1 secure file from charis_wilson@nps.gov.
Use the secure link below to download.
Mr. Triplett,

As mentioned in my earlier email, I have placed copies of the records that we released in response to NPS-2014-00178 on our external FTP server.� The server will require you to log on, however, once you have done so you will be able to access the file by clicking on the link below.� Please note, the materials will only be available through the date shown below.� If you want access after that date you will need to download a copy to your computer or local server.�

Sincerely,

Charis Wilson, Ph.D., CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
303-969-2959

Secure File Downloads:
Available until: 06 March 2016

Click link to download:
14-178 Responsive Records_Consolidated_REDACTED.pdf ,115.30 MB
https://secure.nps.gov/seos/1000/mpd/ui07032016a18dcfd2d0cf5992b8ffc73285d52d9e
You have received file link(s) sent via NPS Secure File Transfer (hosted by Accellion). To retrieve the file(s), please click on the file name (link) above.

From: Donald Triplett III

Dear Ms. Wilson,

Thank you for your response and your interim release.

In your letter, you stated, "We also be sending separately another document, which will consist of Congressional correspondence supporting LWCF projects that was received after NPS-2014-00178 was processed, however, at this time we do not have a page count for those materials."

If the second document or set of documents consists of Congressional correspondence received after NPS-2014-00178 was processed, I would imagine that these documents, along with the 2014-178 documents you have already sent me, would fulfill my request entirely. I would see no further need to search each LWCF field office nor the Congressional Affairs office for any further documents that may otherwise potentially be responsive.

I look forward to your second release consisting of this second set of documents you mention in your letter, and thank you again for the interim release of the 2014-178 documents.

Sincerely,

Donald Triplett, III

From: National Park Service

Please verify your e-mail address

Please click on the following link to verify your e-mail.
https://secure.nps.gov/a/wva/aqS08888a0A5lecIF3kSsfQmWKCRXCJ31101454962149

This verification link expires in 168 hour(s). Beyond this timeframe, please click https://secure.nps.gov/a/wva/aqS08888a0A5lecIF3kSsfQmWKCRXCJ31111454962149 to request a new verification link.

Thank you for using National Park Service Secure File Sharing.

From: FOIA, NPS

Mr. Triplett,

Your request has been granted in full. The attached PDF contains the final
set of records, totaling 49 pages, which are responsive to your request.
There is no charge to you for this information, as the costs to process
your request did not exceed our $50 threshold for charging fees.

Note, because the National Park Service creates and maintains law
enforcement records, we are required by the Department of Justice to
provide the following information, even though it may or may not apply to
your specific request. Congress excluded three discrete categories of law
enforcement and national security records from the requirements of the
FOIA. See 5 U.S.C. 552(c) (2006 & Supp. IV 2010). This response is limited
to those records that are subject to the requirements of the FOIA. This is
a standard notification that we are required to give all our requesters and
should not be taken as an indication that excluded records do, or do not,
exist.

Sincerely,

C

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

I have attached a PDF containing the last set of records responsive to your
request.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

Files

pages

Close