Email system documentation (Department of Energy)

Emma Best filed this request with the Department of Energy of the United States of America.
Tracking # HQ-2017-00612-F
Est. Completion None
Status
Fix Required

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Documentation describing the email system(s) used by your agency, including the procedures and methods for performing searches of the email system.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, 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,

Michael Best

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

Please find attached DOE's acknowledgment letter for the above referenced FOIA request. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Good Morning Mr. Best,

I sent you an email on March 20 indicating that we would be closing this matter since you had not contacted our office to clarify this request. If you still wish to pursue this request, we will need further clarification before we can search for responsive documents.

Please call me at 202-287-6831 to discuss this matter further.

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Michael Best

Nothing from March 20th has been received. (See https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/email-system-documentation-department-of-energy-33842/ for a complete copy of all correspondence received.) Could you kindly resend it? Thanks!

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

The email stated:

“On March 1, 2017 I informed that we were unable to provide responsive documents to this FOIA request unless you made the request more specific. You were also informed that your case would be closed if you did not contact me within 2 weeks.

Since you have not contacted me, I assume that you are no longer interested in pursuing this request. Therefore, this case will be closed. You may contact our office if you would like to resubmit your request. “

Again, we can reopen your request if you would like to pursue it. At this time, our program office has informed us the request is too broad to conduct an adequate search. I simply need to discuss the case with you so that we can modify the request.

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Michael Best

I would indeed like to reopen it. Also, per the page I originally sent you, no such correspondence was received on either March 1 or March 20. The March 1 letter said that you would be in touch, but nothing was received. See https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/email-system-documentation-department-of-energy-33842/ for proof of this. Please re-open the request and inform me of what these hypothetical issues are that makes this request too broad or vague, despite being more than clear enough for someone familiar with the systems to begin the process of locating the records (i.e. anyone responsible for maintaining the email or IT systems).

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

You requested: “Documentation describing the email system(s) used by your agency, including the procedures and methods for performing searches of the email system.”

I think the second portion of the request is fine, the issue is with the first part. “Documentation describing the email system(s) used by your agency” could potentially encompass any discussion that any DOE employee had that mentions the email system. In that case, the program office would have to use a vague search term like “email,” which could literally turn up millions of documents.

I would recommend replacing the word “documentation” with something like “Any official DOE policies, memoranda, manuals, guidance, etc.” I believe this would sufficiently narrow the search to the information you are looking for. Please give me your thoughts.

Thank you

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Michael Best

Thanks for clarifying what the issue is. I definitely see what you mean! I hadn't meant it to be that inclusive. Your suggestion of altering the request to “Any official DOE policies, memoranda, manuals, guidance, etc.” sounds perfect. I have no interest in individual emails with tech support information, etc. If there are templates for this that are used, that would be of interest to me. However, you're 100% correct in your belief that I'm NOT interested in "any discussion that any DOE employee had that mentions the email system." I am most interested in information that will help me understand how the email system works and what it's capabilities are. The purpose of this is to allow myself and others to provide FOIA requests for emails that are written to work with your system's capabilities.

Thanks so much for your help and patience with this. If you have any other ideas about how to refine the request or concerns, please let me know. I also apologize for assuming that the lost correspondence you referred to was a form letter that cited vague concerns about the breadth of the request. Several agencies have tried that, without explaining how it is too broad or imprecise and without offering suggestions on how to fix it like you have.

Thank you again so much for your help with this request.

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

You’re welcome, it’s no trouble at all.

For the record, please confirm that you would like to modify your request to read:

“Any official DOE policies, memoranda, manuals, guidance, etc describing the email system(s) used by your agency, including the procedures and methods for performing searches of the email system.”

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Michael Best

Yes, I confirm that I would like to modify my request to apply to “Any official DOE policies, memoranda, manuals, guidance, etc describing the email system(s) used by your agency, including the procedures and methods for performing searches of the email system.”

Thanks again!

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

Please find attached DOE's final response to the above referenced FOIA request. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Mr. Best,

I am writing to provide you an update on the status of your request and to ask you to narrow the scope of your request.

I have received responsive documents from our General Counsel’s Office, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer. These documents cover the email policies for the vast majority of DOE. However, it has come to my attention that there are some smaller labs and field sites that use their own email systems. Your request, as written, would require us to search for documents at each of these locations, which would be quite a cumbersome process. If you would agree to slightly modify your request, we could complete these request shortly.

If you are in agreement, please respond to this email to confirm that you would like to read:

“Any official DOE policies, memoranda, manuals, guidance, etc describing the email system(s) used by your agency, including the procedures and methods for performing searches of the email system, limited to documents that exist in the Office of General Counsel and the Office of the Chief Information Officer.”

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please let me know by replying to this email or calling me at the number listed below.

Thank you,

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Mr. Best,

I attempted to contact you on July 29 regarding a modification of your request, and received no reply. Please contact me to discuss this matter.

Thank you,

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

I sent you the below emails on July 29, 2017 and August 5, 2017 attempting to discuss this FOIA Request with you. Thus far, you have not contacted me to discuss your request. If you still wish to pursue this request, please reply to this email or contact me at the number listed below.

If you do not contact me to discuss this matter by August 25, 2017, I will assume you no longer wish to pursue your request and will be closing your request with our office.

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

From: Lukis, Charles (CONTR)

On August 11, I emailed you informing you that if you failed to contact me regarding your request by August 25, 2017,
that your case would be closed. Since you have failed to contact me by August 25, 2017, we will be closing this
request with our office. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Charles Lukis
Central Research, Contractor to the
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
202-287-6831

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