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

Due May 4, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

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

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