EPA Reassignments and Appointments

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America .
Tracking #

EPA-HQ-2018-006416

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I am filing a Freedom of Information Act request for the following records:

1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Senior Executive Service members from January 20, 2017 to the date this request is processed.
2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members.
3. Human Resources documents stating that new personnel are being appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300j-10 available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300j%E2%80%9310).

I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. Please produce the records on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for – or deliberation concerning – certain records delay the production of others that the agency has already retrieved and elected to produce.

I respectfully request that you waive all fees in connection with this request as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can meaningfully participate in debates over proper personnel management practices happening at the EPA and other federal agencies.

The subject matter of the requested records is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government by disclosing how federal agencies plan to use some of their most-experienced employees, which programs are being deprioritized by the agency, and which employees were appointed through a law that provides the administrator with unusually wide hiring discretion.

This information would contextualize a major report by the Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/pruitt-epa/557123/) that two staff members were essentially given raises by reappointment via the Safe Drinking Water Act. Administrator Pruitt claimed that he found out about the raises this week (http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2018/04/05/epa-chief-pruitt-addresses-criticism-in-fox-news-interview.html), but that is contradicted by two unnamed EPA officials and a White House official in the Washington Post (https://wapo.st/2uMjjp7). Disclosure of these documents would answer a contested question amongst federal employees.

The reassignment information will aide a separate breaking news story. The New York Times (https://nyti.ms/2EnPGKf) claims that several EPA employees were reassigned after expressing their concerns about excessive spending.

The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area, and the organization maintains active work around drinking water quality. The healthy and productive operation of the EPA is of great concern to us, and we have weighed in repeatedly regarding policies that we believe would negatively impact the EPA's effective operations.

In addition to the public interest fee waiver, I ask to be properly categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including composing mass communications to our followers, analyzing FOIA responses, and coordinating press outreach. I have previously written about the federal government's work to reorganize its staff:

https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/05/trump-admin-policies-leave-700-cdc-jobs-vacant
https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs

This work, supplemented by Freedom of Information Act requests, was covered in major media outlets:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/politics/epa-hiring-freeze/index.html

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

In the event that there are fees, please inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. Please also include an explanation of why I was not granted the fee waivers and/or reductions.

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,

Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: Environmental Protection Agency

This message is to confirm your request submission to the FOIAonline application: View Request. Request information is as follows: (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2818aeebc)
* Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2018-006416
* Requester Name: Alexander Rony
* Date Submitted: 04/09/2018
* Request Status: Submitted
* Description: 1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Senior Executive Service members from January 20, 2017 to the date this request is processed. 2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members. 3. Human Resources documents stating that new personnel are being appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300j-10 available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300j%E2%80%9310). Please see attached file for full FOIA request language.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

04/19/2018 08:38 PM FOIA Request: EPA-HQ-2018-006416

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Your request for Fee Waiver for the FOIA request EPA-HQ-2018-006416 has been fully granted. Additional details for this request are as follows:
* Request Created on: 04/09/2018
* Fee Waiver Disposition Reason: N/A
* Request Long Description: 1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Senior Executive Service members from January 20, 2017 to the date this request is processed. 2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members. 3. Human Resources documents stating that new personnel are being appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300j-10 available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300j%E2%80%9310). Please see attached file for full FOIA request language.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

07/03/2018 12:17 PM FOIA Request: EPA-HQ-2018-006416

This email is to update you on the status of your request submitted April 9th, 2018 and assigned to the Office of Administration and Resources Management (OARM).  I apologize that we were unable to meet the estimated due date in FOIA OnLine and for the delay in notifying you. OARM is processing requests in the order submitted as well as on a multi-track system to process complex and simple request types concurrently. Due to the need to coordinate with multiple offices across the EPA, this request is considered complex and necessitates more time to complete.  OARM is processing multiple complex requests in the order of their submission dates and the average processing timeline has been 10 – 12 months.  The division in OARM with responsive records has 23pending requests and Request EPA-HQ-2018-006416 is 12th in the queue. The estimated production date for this request is September 28th, 2018 but I am very hopeful it will be completed prior to that date. Records relevant to your request have been released through FOIAonline and can be found at https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2817d7a78. (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2817d7a78)
As you may be aware, there has been a substantial increase in the volume and complexity of FOIA requests received by federal agencies. Please rest assured that OARM, and EPA as a whole, has been trying to diligently process all of its requests.  We sincerely apologize if there has been any inconvenience.  If it is possible for us to do so, we will provide you with interim releases as they become available. Please contact me at sandfoss.kristina@epa.gov or 202-564-7177 with any questions or if you desire to narrow your request.
Additionally, you may seek assistance from EPA’s FOIA Public Liaison at hq.foia@epa.gov or (202) 566-1667, or from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways: by mail, Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, MD 20740-6001; email: ogis@nara.gov; telephone: (202) 741-5770 or (877) 684-6448; or fax: (202) 741-5769.
Thank you for your continued interest in the EPA and have a wonderful holiday!

Kristina
Kristina Sandfoss

OARM FOIA Coordinator

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Good Morning,

I am working on your FOIA request and Human Resources has asked for further clarification for item number 2 of your request: Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members.
Please clarify so we can close out your request in a timely manner. Thank you!

Brandee L. Carmichael, MSA
Administrative Officer
Immediate Office, Office of Administration and Resources Management - RTP
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
Phone: 919-541-0615

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CONFIDENTIALITY: This communication may contain privileged or other confidential information. If you are not the intended addressee, or believe you have received this communication in error, you may neither copy, disseminate, nor distribute it to anyone else or use it in any unauthorized manner; to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you receive this email by mistake, please advise the sender immediately by using the reply facility in your mail software and delete it from your computer. "Information in this message may be subject to the Privacy Act (5 USC 552a) and should be treated accordingly."

From: Alexander Rony

Hi Brandee, according to 5 U.S.C. § 3395(a)(2), Senior Executive Service members can be reassigned only after receiving advance written notices from the agency UNLESS the career appointee has waived the notice of reassignment via written consent. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/3395 for the relevant legal text. It is possible that your agency received no such written consent waivers, though if it had, there should be a record of those. Please let me know if you need additional clarification and I can call.

While that aspect of my request is being processed, would you be willing to release already-processed records on a rolling basis?

Thank you,
Alexander

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Please provide further clarification for item number 2 of your FOIA request. If we do not receive a response within ten days (Dec 7), then we can only provide a response for items 1 and 3.

Kind Regards,

Brandee Carmichael

From: Muckrock Staff

Hi Brandee, according to 5 U.S.C. § 3395(a)(2), Senior Executive Service members can be reassigned only after receiving advance written notices from the agency UNLESS the career appointee has waived the notice of reassignment via written consent. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/3395 for the relevant legal text. It is possible that your agency received no such written consent waivers, though if it had, there should be a record of those. Please let me know if you need additional clarification and I can call.

While that aspect of my request is being processed, would you be willing to release already-processed records on a rolling basis?

Thank you,
Alexander

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Your FOIAonline user account for Alexander Rony will be locked in 5 days due to inactivity.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Your FOIAonline user account for Alexander Rony has been locked due to inactivity.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Mr. Rony,

This letter regards your April 09, 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the following U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) records:

"1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Senior Executive Service members from January 20, 2017 to the date this request is processed.
2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members.
3. Human Resources documents stating that new personnel are being appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300j-10 available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300j%E2%80%9310). Please see attached file for full FOIA request language."

Often, requesters for older requests no longer have an interest in receiving a response. Given the passage of time since the submission of your FOIA requests and to avoid spending unnecessary time and resources responding to requests where requesters may no longer wish to receive a response, we inquire as to whether you are still interested in obtaining responses to your requests.

If you are still interested in the responsive agency records, we will make every effort to complete the requests as quickly as possible. Please confirm within thirty (30) working days of the date of this letter, or May 23, 2019, that you still wish our office to continue processing your requests. If we do not hear from you by May 23, 2019, we will assume that you do not desire a response to your requests and will administratively close your requests.

Please contact my office via email at bossard.justin@epa.gov<mailto:bossard.justin@epa.gov>, or by phone at 202-564-1872 to discuss your requests. Please be sure to reference your FOIA request number EPA-HQ-2018-006416 in all communications.

Sincerely,

Justin G. Bossard
FOIA Coordinator

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Resources and Business Operations (ORBO)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
WJC North | 3353-P
Washington, DC - 20460
Mail Code 3102A
Office: 202*564*1872
Cell Phone: 202*590*6303
bossard.justin@epa.gov<mailto:bossard.justin@epa.gov>

This email may contain material that is confidential, privileged and/or attorney work-product, and is for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review, reliance or distribution by others or forwarding without permission is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and delete all copies.

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Mr. Bossard, I still would like your office to continue processing my request (EPA-HQ-2018-006416). FOIAonline has locked me out, but I can still be reached by email.

Thank you,
Alexander Rony
alexander.rony@sierraclub.org

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Good morning Mr. Rony,

I have made a note of your request. Please let me follow-up upon this request, and I should have an update by the end of the this week.

Wishing you a pleasant week,

Justin

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Good morning Mr. Rony,

My apologies for not responding earlier last week, but I was unfortunately away from the office until today. As requested, you shall have a final disposition of your case by Thursday May 23 or Friday May 24, 2019 of this week.

Wishing you a pleasant Monday.

Justin Bossard

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Hello Mr. Rony,

A quick update. Your request’s disposition is almost complete, and I expect that it will be released to you by next week. I will keep following up on your case to get a result back to you as soon as it is possible.

Wishing you an enjoyable long weekend,

Justin

From: Environmental Protection Agency

The FOIA request - EPA-HQ-2018-006416 has been supplemented with additional supporting files. Additional details for this item are as follows:
* Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2018-006416
* Requester: Alexander Rony
* Submitted Date: 07/05/2018
* Description: 1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Senior Executive Service members from January 20, 2017 to the date this request is processed. 2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members. 3. Human Resources documents stating that new personnel are being appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300j-10 available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300j%E2%80%9310). Please see attached file for full FOIA request language.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

EPA-HQ-2018-006416 has been processed with the following final disposition: Full Grant

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From: Alexander Rony

Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Your FOIAonline user account for requests@muckrock.com has been deactivated due to inactivity.

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