DOT OIG investigation of McCourt

Todd Feathers filed this request with the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General of the United States of America.
Tracking # FI-2014-0113
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Todd Feathers

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 OIG investigation report that led to the suspension of McCourt Construction Company, of Boston, Mass., on Dec. 18, 2013. A letter from the FAA to McCourt on that date cites an OIG investigation into a contract between the company and MassPort as the reason for the debarment.

I also request that fees be waived as I am a journalist employed by the Boston Globe and intend to use any pertinent information to educate the public. There is no commercial value in the documents I am requesting, however they will be helpful to me as i research and report my article.

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,

Todd Feathers

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Simmons, Angel

Mr. Feathers,

The attached FOIA "follow up" was received in this office via fax on August 19, 2014. In it, you point out an earlier request dated July 18, 2014. However, I never received that request. Therefore, I am now acknowledging receipt of your faxed FOIA request dated August 18, 2014. Please see the attached acknowledgment letter and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Angel Simmons
FOIA/ Privacy Act Officer
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Inspector General
(202) 366-6131 Office

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

Thank you for your help.

From: Simmons, Angel

Mr. Feathers,

Please know that the OIG is processing FOIA requests as expeditiously as possible on a first-in, first-out basis. We are currently processing  FOIA requests received in January, 2014.  Yours will be processed in the order it was received. 

Unfortunately, I am unable to estimate the length of delay at this time.  The length of time depends on the complexity of the requests ahead of yours. 

If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached by email or phone.

Sincerely,
Angel Simmons
FOIA/ Privacy Act Officer
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Inspector General
(202) 366-6131 Office

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

Thank you for your help.

From: Hines, Barbara

Mr. Feathers,

Please be advised that Angel Simmons, who you corresponded with in the past, is no longer with DOT OIG. She accepted a position with another employer. Her leaving has caused a delay in processing FOIA requests. The individual hired as her replacement should be on staff within the next few weeks. We are currently processing FOIA requests received in June 2014. Yours will be processed in the order it was received. We apologize for the delay.

Unfortunately, I am unable to estimate the length of delay at this time. The length of time depends on the complexity of the requests ahead of yours.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach me by email or phone.
Regards,

Barbara A. Hines
Associate Counsel
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Inspector General
202 366-1406 Office
202 680-3084 Mobile
202 366-1975 Fax

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 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FI-2014-0113.

Thank you for your help.

From: Hines, Barbara

Hello Mr. Feathers,

The FOIA team is now fully staffed and a member of staff has started on your FOIA request. You should receive our response before the end of April. Thank you for your patience.

Barbara A. Hines

From: Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Todd Feathers

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to appeal redactions to responsive documents I received on April 30, 2015 as a result of request #FI-2014-0113.

I submitted the request on July 18, 2014, and asked for "A copy of the OIG investigation report that led to the suspension of McCourt Construction Company, of Boston, Mass."

I freely acknowledge that the names of individuals should be redacted throughout the documents I received, but many of the redactions made to words, phrases, and paragraphs throughout the report are nonsensical and not based on any exemption.

To begin with, there are several paragraphs redacted in near or complete entirety without an explanation. In particular, I am referring to the paragraph at the end of Page 3 of the report, the paragraph at the beginning of Page 4, and the second-to-last paragraph of Page 8.

Based on contextual evidence, there seems to be no reason for those redactions. The second-to-last paragraph on Page 8, for example, states:

"During the course of the investigation it was discovered that {REDACTED SENTENCE]. Additionally, it was alleged by {REDACTED NAME] in approximately August 2012, almost two years into this investigation, that [SEVERAL REDACTED LINES]."

It seems to me that findings of the investigation are the exact kind information that should not be redacted, especially considering that this is not a criminal investigation.

Furthermore, throughout the document, individual words or short phrases that can not possibly contain exempt information by themselves are redacted. In multiple cases, the verb in a sentence is redacted while the rest of the sentence remains intact.

Also, I disagree with the decision redact the name of the DBE company involved in this case. To begin with, a company's privacy is not protected by exemption 6 or exemption 7c, which both refer to "personal privacy." Second, the name of the DBE company is widely available through records posted online, and myself and others already know it.

Given the illogical nature of many of the redactions, I ask that the redactions be reviewed. In particular, I would like the full text (with the exception of names) of the paragraphs referred to above.

Thank you very much for your help, and I look forward to receiving your decision.

Sincerely,
Todd Feathers

From: Hines, Barbara

Mr. Feathers,

I was asked to contact you to let you know that your FOIA appeal is being processed. We anticipate additional information may be released. Some of the records are still being determined. Please know that someone else is handling the review.

I will be out the office until next week. If you would like, we can set up a time next week to discuss.
Thanks,

Barbara A. Hines
Associate Counsel
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Inspector General
202 366-1406 Office
202 680-3084 Mobile
202 366-1975 Fax

From: Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General

A letter stating that the request appeal has been succesful.

From: Hines, Barbara

Mr. Feathers,

Attached you will find the response to your appeal (FI-2005-0066A), which was completed and sent to you on December 15, 2015. You should have received your copy by now. Also attached is a copy of the DOT OIG response to your original FOIA request (FI-2014-0113), which you appealed.

Thank you.

Barbara A. Hines

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