DHS OAM pilot UAS study (2004)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the United States Customs and Border Protection of the United States of America.
Tracking # CBP-AP-2016-036565ptl
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

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

A copy of the findings and final report from the FY2004 pilot study of UAS operations in the US Southwest Border Region by OAM. This pilot study is referenced on p. 6 of "Concept of Operations for CBP's Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System," which was prepared for Congress in FY2010: https://www.eff.org/document/customs-border-protection-2010-drone-concept-operations-report-congress

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,

Shawn Musgrave

From: FOIA Division Office of Diversity and Civil Rights

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello,

It has been several weeks since I received an update on this request. Please advise.

Thank you.

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

From: Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Staff

Dear Mr. Musgrave:

Thank you for contacting the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). Your request for assistance, which we received on February 6, 2014, via email, will be assigned to an OGIS facilitator and handled as quickly as possible. Please consider this email our office's official acknowledgement of your request for assistance.

For tracking purposes, we assigned your request Case No. 201400290. Please cite this case number in all communications to our office regarding this matter.

To help us better understand your case and determine how we can best assist you, we request that you provide us copies of the following documents:

• Your initial FOIA request(s)
• The agency’s response letter(s) to your request(s)
• Your appeal letter (s) to the agency - if applicable
• The agency’s final appeal determination(s) - if applicable
• Any other relevant correspondence with the agency regarding your requests and appeals or notes regarding your attempts to contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Before we can contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding your FOIA request, we need your formal permission to allow it to discuss your FOIA request with our office so that the agency and OGIS do not violate the Privacy Act of 1974. Please review the attached consent language that we need you to sign and return providing that permission. Once we receive your consent, we can contact the agency to begin to discuss your dispute.

You may email the signed and dated consent statement to us at ogis@nara.gov, fax it to us at 202-741-5769 or send it to us at the National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Please contact via email or by phone at 202-741-5770 if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) Staff

From: OGIS

Hi Shawn,

I'm writing to let you know that I'm the facilitaor assigned to your Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) case. Your request for assistance pertains to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP's) unresponsiveness to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

As you may know, Congress created OGIS to serve as the Federal FOIA Ombudsman and its jurisdiction is limited to assisting with the FOIA process.

OGIS:

• Advocates for neither the requester nor the agency, but for the FOIA process to work as intended
• Provides mediation services to help resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies
• Strives to work in conjunction with the existing request and appeal process
• May become involved at any point in the FOIA administrative process

OGIS does not:

• Compel agencies to release documents
• Enforce FOIA
• Process requests or review appeals
• Provide assistance outside the realm of FOIA
• Make determinations or dictate resolutions to disputes

To help us better understand your case and determine how we can best assist you, I request that you provide us with copies of the following documents:

• Your initial FOIA request(s)
• The agency’s response letter(s) to your request(s)
• Your appeal letter (s) to the agency - if applicable
• The agency’s final appeal determination(s) - if applicable
• Any other relevant correspondence with the agency regarding your requests and appeals or notes regarding your attempts to contact CBP.

I realize you may have numerous open FOIA requests with CBP. It would be helpful for us if you could give us the FOIA requests numbers (and appeal numbers if applicable) of the specific requests that are of greatest interest to you.

Before we can contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/CBP regarding your FOIA requests, we need your formal permission to allow it to discuss your FOIA request with our office so that the agency and OGIS do not violate the Privacy Act of 1974. Please review the attached consent language that we need you to sign and return providing that permission. Once we receive your consent, we can contact the agency to begin to discuss your dispute.

You may email the signed and dated consent statement to us at ogis@nara.gov, fax it to us at 202-741-5769 or send it to us at the National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

Please contact via email or by phone at 202-741-5770 if you have any questions.

Best regards,
Christa Lemelin

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 8, 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 #2013F28205.

Thank you for your help.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Lemelin:

This is in regard to OGIS case number 201400290. I will send the OGIS waiver by separate email.

Below please find all correspondence with CBP with regard to FOIA 2013F28205. I've attached their acknowledgement letter, received in July 2013. This has been the only communication I have received to date on this request, despite numerous followups as indicated.

Please let me know if I can provide any more information with regard to this request.

Thank you for your assistance.

Best,
Shawn

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Burroughs:

Please be aware that I have referred this request to OGIS in light of CBP's non-response for several weeks.

Best,
Shawn

From: Christa Lemelin

Hi Shawn,

Thank you for providing me with your signed waiver and copies of
correspondence pertaining to your FOIA request, No. FOIA 2013F28205, to
CBP. I appreciate it.

I will contact you if I have any questions or when have news to report
regarding your FOIA request. Please contact me if you have any questions or
comments and thank you for your patience while I handle your request.

Happy Sunshine Week,
Christa
--
Christa Lemelin
Facilitator, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
Mailing Address: 8601 Adelphi Road College Park, MD 20740-6001
Street Address: 800 North Capitol St NW, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-741-5773
Fax: 202-741-5769
Website: www.archives.gov/ogis
Blog: http://blogs.archives.gov/foiablog/

From: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Christa Lemelin

Hi Shawn,

I hope this email finds you well. I'm writing to follow up on your request
for assistance regarding your FOIA request, No. 2013F28205, to U.S. Customs
and Border Protection (CBP). I contacted CBP and learned that CBP's
estimated completion date for your request is 10-12 months. CBP staff
report that due to the high volume of FOIA requests it receives, it was
unable to process your request within the twenty-working day time limit
required by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A). For your reference, in FY 2013, CBP
received 41,381 requests. At the end of FY 2013, CBP had 40,259 pending
requests. CBP said that it would process your request in the order in which
it was received and shall act with all due diligence to process your
request as soon as possible.

CBP staff said that agency staff sent you numerous regarding the status of
your request. CBP said that the emails that they sent to your email account
did not go through so they sent a letter to your post office box on March
18, 2014. CBP staff said the email they have listed for MuckRock is
requests@muckrock.com and the postal address they have on file for
MuckRock is "DEPT MR 10446, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA."

Shawn, if you can provide me with the email address and mailing address
that you would like CBP to use when communicating with you regarding your
requests, I would be happy to pass along your contact information.

Out of curiosity, do you submit FOIA requests to CBP via FOIAonline and if
you do, do you use a registered account that's in your name and/or do you
use a registered MuckRock/group account?

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Christa
--
Christa Lemelin
Facilitator, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
Mailing Address: 8601 Adelphi Road College Park, MD 20740-6001
Street Address: 800 North Capitol St NW, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-741-5773
Fax: 202-741-5769
Website: www.archives.gov/ogis
Blog: http://blogs.archives.gov/foiablog/

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Lemelin,

Thank you so much for your update. I hope you had a fantastic Sunshine Week!

Beside the March 18 letter, I have not received a single update from CBP since submitting the request last July and requesting updates on a monthly basis. This is part of a pattern of non-responsiveness from CBP -- I emailed FOIA Liaison Sabrina Burroughts (cc'd) as well as several other CBP FOIA staff for several weeks in vain in an attempt to address communications issue.

Hopefully, through this mediation process, CBP will finally acknowledge what hundreds of other agencies across the country (including other DHS components) have grasped (I have also tried to explain this to CBP staff on a number of occasions, without success):

Each request submitted through the MuckRock system has a unique email address associated with it. Just as CBP and other DHS components use tracking numbers and asks requesters to include this number in communications about FOIA requests, the unique email inboxes allow MuckRock to ensure that requests get filed appropriately.

As indicated on each of the followups submitted to CBP FOIA, the email inbox for this request is requests@muckrock.com.

The mailing address is:

MuckRock News
Dept MR6129
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

If CBP FOIA persistently had emails bounce back using the incorrect email address you indicated, why did its staff not reach out or check its contact information?

Again: MuckRock is an interface for individual requesters to submit FOIA requests. If email addresses are part of the reason a large number of CBP FOIA requests (including a handful more of mine) have gone months without any acknowledgement, MuckRock would be happy to discuss.

This request was not submitted via FOIAOnline, but directly to CBP FOIA.

Please let me know if I can provide any more information that would help with addressing these issues.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Christa Lemelin

Hi Shawn,

Apologies for my delay in responding to your March 24, 2014 email.

Thank you for clarifying my understanding of MuckRock's use of unique email
addresses when filing FOIA requests. I appreciate it.

I will follow up with CBP regarding the issues raised in your email. I will
be in touch when I have more information to share. In the meantime, please
contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding your Office of
Government Information Services (OGIS) case. Thank you for your patience.

Best regards,
Christa Lemelin
--
Christa Lemelin
Facilitator, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
Mailing Address: 8601 Adelphi Road College Park, MD 20740-6001
Street Address: 800 North Capitol St NW, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-741-5773
Fax: 202-741-5769
Website: www.archives.gov/ogis
Blog: http://blogs.archives.gov/foiablog/

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Lemelin,

I am checking in on this OGIS case, and wanted to bring another issue to your attention regarding CBP's processing of FOIA requests.

Particularly, the CBP FOIA office insists that "All expedited requests and appeals must be submitted through the FOIA Online website."

Please look into this matter -- it does not seem that CBP can restrict the submission method for appeals and expedited requests to an online process.

Thank you,
Shawn

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 July 8, 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 #2013F28205 ; OGIS case number 201400290.

Thank you for your help.

From: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

A no responsive documents response.

From: Shawn Musgrave

FOIA Appeals, Policy and Litigation Branch
US Customs and Border Protection, Mint Annex
90 K Street, NE, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20229-1177

June 6, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:

This is an appeal of the adequacy of search performed in 2013F28205, in which I requested the findings and final report from the FY2004 pilot study of UAS operations in the US Southwest Border Region by OAM.

As cited in my original request, this pilot study was noted in a 2010 document submitted by CBP to Congress (a copy is available here: https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/cbp_uas_concept_of_operations.pdf).

From the 2010 CONOPS submitted to Congress in FY2010:

"OAM began UAS operations in FY 2004 with a pilot study to determine the feasibility of using a
UAS as an RSTA asset in the U.S. Southwest Border Region. This pilot study included the
formulation of initial UAS CONOPS and an evaluation of UAS program needs. The pilot study
proved successful in providing RSTA coverage of the Southwest border and actionable
intelligence to Border Patrol ground agents. In addition, it concluded that a UAS provided
unique law enforcement capabilities, including the ability to carry a variety of sensors and
payloads and the ability to remain airborne for extended periods of time without the limitations
imposed by requiring on-board pilots. As a result of this pilot study, UAS operations have
become a permanent part of OAM Southwest Border Region operations."

CBP's response letter (and seemingly its search for responsive documents) fails to address the fact that a pilot study entails reporting of findings as a fundamental matter. It was on the basis of this pilot study that CBP expanded its UAS program as a permanent fixture of the border strategy. It is thus unthinkable that i) a report of findings was not produced, and ii) that a copy could not be found by CBP FOIA staff.

For this and any other reasons deemed applicable by the FOIA appeals authority, I request that this FOIA be remanded to CBP for a good faith search and release of responsive documents.

Best,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

A letter stating that the request appeal has been succesful.

From: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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