EOPmails (GAO)

Emma Best filed this request with the Government Accountability Office of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # PRI-17-088
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under 4 CFR 81. I hereby request the following records:

a copy of all emails from the domain EOP.gov to senior managers encompassed within the required agency system for retaining emails of senior officials. Frequently this records management policy/system is described by the name Capstone.
https://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/grs/grs06-1-faqs.html

If the agency has not yet established NARA-compliant email retention procedures, then I instead request an electronic search of the mailboxes of agency senior managers for all emails that include the EOP.gov phrase in the FROM address.

I limit this request to the time period January 20, 2017 to the present.

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: Records Request

PRI-17-088

Mr. Michael Best
MuckRock
DEPT MR 32989
411A Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA 02144-2516

Dear Mr. Best:

We have received your request and are processing it in accordance with our regulations concerning the availability of GAO records to the public, contained in 4 C.F.R. Part 81. If you have any questions regarding the status of your request, please call me on (202) 512-9951 and reference the "PRI" case number at the top of this e-mail.

Sincerely yours,

Patricia Stokes
Senior, Government Information Specialist
Government Accountability Office
Audit Policy & Quality Assurance
441 G Street, NW
Room 5044
Washington, DC 20548
Tel: (202) 512-9951
Email: stokesp@gao.gov

From: Young, Charles

Mr. Best,
If you'd like to chat about GAO and discuss what we do and how we approach our work, I'd be happy to do so. Your MuckRock article suggesting GAO "stalled" with regard to Sen. Warren's and Congressman Cummings' request is just not accurate and we would have appreciated the opportunity to at least comment. We handled that request in the same manner we do all Congressional requests from either side of the aisle. And then there was a tweet speculating GAO could have uncovered Michael Flynn's issues - but GAO does not enforce ethics laws and has no subpoena powers. We do non-partisan, fact-based financial and performance audits of government programs at the request of Congress. Also, our FOIA office said they recently replied to a request from you for lobbyist disclosure forms and records of political contributions. None of these things are filed with GAO. You now have my number and email so if you have questions about GAO, please let me know.
Chuck

Chuck Young
Managing Director, Public Affairs
GAO (Government Accountability Office)
www.gao.gov<http://www.gao.gov>
202-512-3823
Connect with GAO on Twitter<https://twitter.com/usgao>, Facebook<https://www.facebook.com/usgao>, YouTube<https://www.youtube.com/user/usgao>, LinkedIn<https://www.linkedin.com/company/us-government?trk=cp_followed_name_us-government>, or Flickr<https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgao>
Subscribe to our Podcasts<http://www.gao.gov/podcast/watchdog.html> or the Watchblog<http://blog.gao.gov/>

From: Michael Best

"Your MuckRock article suggesting GAO "stalled" with regard to Sen. Warren's and Congressman Cummings' request is just not accurate"

Thank you also for noting that you believe that "immediately" is consistent with the month long delay in beginning your investigation.

"but GAO does not enforce ethics laws and has no subpoena powers. "

No one suggested you do.

"Also, our FOIA office said they recently replied to a request from you for lobbyist disclosure forms and records of political contributions" Well, your FOIA office misinformed you. My request was quite clearly for "noncompliance letters" regarding the failure of people to file above - I did NOT ask for disclosure forms or records political contributions.

"None of these things are filed with GAO. "

None of those things were requested from GAO.

From: Michael Best

Oh, and for the record - I tagged you in several tweets about this matter well over a month before the article was published. Your Agency had ample notice to respond, and you have now confirmed you _are_ monitoring twitter for such things.

As for offering a comment, the correspondence from your agency made it clear that no records or information would be released. Why would I further pursue the matter and chase you for additional opportunities to comment?

From: Government Accountability Office

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Stokes, Patricia A

PRI-17-088

Mr. Best,

Please see attachments. Paper copies are in the mail.

Sincerely yours,

Patricia Stokes
Senior, Government Information Specialist
Government Accountability Office
Audit Policy & Quality Assurance
441 G Street, NW
Room 5044
Washington, DC 20548
Tel: (202) 512-9951
Email: stokesp@gao.gov<mailto:stokesp@gao.gov>

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