EXPEDITED REQUEST: ED social media/press contact

Andrew Couts filed this request with the U.S. Department of Education of the United States of America.
Tracking # 17-00764-F
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Dell Cameron

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a journalist working for The Daily Dot (www.dailydot.com), an online news publication. I am requesting records under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). 5 U.S.C.§ 552.

Additionally, I am seeking expedited processing of my request pursuant to 5 U.S.C.§ 552(a)(6)(E), as the subject of my request concerns a matter of current exigency to the American public, for reasons I will detail below.

-- REQUEST

I am seeking any and all records relating to instructions (orders, directives, memos, or communications) received by the U.S. Department of Education. (“ED”), regarding:

1) The ED’s use of social media, including its official Twitter accounts (@usedgov, etc.)
2) Communications by ED employees with reporters and/or other members of the news media (via phone, email, press release, or any other method.)
3) The dissemination of press releases to the public.
4) The publication of any agency ED records, including reports or fact sheets
5) The release of ED data through the federal government’s data.gov portal.

Additionally:
1) Please include any internal memos generated by ED pertaining to the use of social media.
2) Please include any internal memos generated by ED pertaining to the Freedom of Information Act.

This includes:
1) Any agency communications, including emails, text messages, and written correspondence.
2) Any physical documents, including memos, briefs and reports.
3) Any legal opinions related to the topics in the itemized lists above.

-- SEARCH PARAMETERS
1) Please limit your search to records created on or after FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017, up to the date/time the search for responsive records begins. Including any records created before this time frame that have been circulated or shared among ED employees.
2) Include any publicly available records.
3) Search for, and disclose, releasable records even if they are available publicly through other sources outside the ED, such as the National Archives and Records Administration.
4) If any records responsive or potentially responsive to my request have been destroyed, my request includes, but is not limited to, any and all records relating or referring to the destruction of those records. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all records relating or referring to the events leading to the destruction of those records.

-- REASONING FOR EXPEDITED PROCESSING

I have requested expedited processing because I believe my request concerns a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exists possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence.

For background:

1) The Associated Press ("AP") reported on January 24, 2017 that the Trump administration has “instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency,” among other agencies, while barring “staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch.” [New York Times: http://nyti.ms/2jcqKLq]
2) According to AP: “Emails sent to EPA staff… also detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.”
3) According to AP: One directive from the Trump administration warned EPA employees to carefully screen incoming media requests, because “messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.”
4) According to AP: orders similar to those received by the EPA have been “issued in recent days by the Trump administration at other federal agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Agriculture, and Interior.”
5) AP's report, if accurate, demonstrates there is a concerted effort by federal government officials to prevent the public dissemination of information from an agency funded by federal tax dollars.
6) AP's report provoked an exceptional media and public interest, as demonstrated by similar reports from the Public Broadcasting Service (http://to.pbs.org/2jtJdE3), the Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/2kpSkpB), Washington Post (http://wapo.st/2jLBwda), among at least dozens of others news outlets.

-- FEE WAIVER

As I am making this request in my capacity as member of the news media, I ask that the ED waive all fees associated with the search, review and duplication of any responsive records.

1) I am full-time staff reporter employed by the Daily Dot, a news company headquartered in Austin, Texas, since 2013.
2) My reporting on government affairs has been recognized by:
> a) The Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://bit.ly/1zBNhHk);
> b) Reporter Eric Lipton of The New York Times (http://bit.ly/2jnW64O);
> c) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York (http://bit.ly/2jXDf1f).
3) Additionally, I can provide a letter from my editor and my company’s CEO by request attesting to my status as full-time reporter.

-- CERTIFICATION

The above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

-- FURNISHING OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS

Please furnish all responsive records in electronic format.

-- FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE

All future correspondence can be directed to me at the email address from which this request originates. Alternatively, you may contact me at the following email address: dell@dailydot.com.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at: (469)387-1810.

Please be aware that under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A), a FOIA request is considered constructively denied after twenty business days and is subject to an appeal on that basis.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dell Cameron

From: Baker, Juanita

This is the Department's acknowledgment of your request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Your request was forwarded to the primary responsible office(s) for action.
Any future correspondence or questions regarding your request, please contact the FOIA Public Liaison at 202-401-8365 or
EDFOIAManager@ed.gov

  • Department of Education FOIA Acknowledgment Letter 17-00764-F

From: Dell Cameron

I'm writing to clarify a portion of my FOIA request.

I wrote: I am seeking any and all records relating to instructions (orders, directives, memos, or communications) received by the U.S. Department of Education. (“ED”)

I am referring to instructions that originate from the White House, which may have been relayed through another federal agency. Please account for that in your search.

I very much appreciate your time.

From: Jones, Kim (Contractor)

The additional information you provided has been noted.

ED FOIA Manager
FOIA Service Center
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20202
202-401-8365 - Hotline
202-401-0920 – Fax
edfoiamanager@ed.gov<mailto:edfoiamanager@ed.gov>

From: Dell Cameron

Regarding: No. 17-00764-F

Trying to ascertain whether my request for expediting processing has been address, as there are only a couple of days left for your agency to do so.

I am prepared to appeal immediately based on the fact that “urgency to inform” based on a “compelling need” has been demonstrated in the D.C. Circuit Court when the subject regards an issue of current news coverage by an entity “primarily engaged in disseminating information, urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.” In the widely cited ACLU of N. Cal. v DOD (2006) case, the court defined "breaking news" as one that “conveys information the public wants quickly,” and “[i]f the story would lose value if it were delayed, it is a breaking news story.” ACLU at *6.

Please let me know by Monday whether my request for expedited processing will be approved, as the statute requires.

Thanks for your time.

From: Jones, Kim (Contractor)

Your request has been forwarded to the proper party (EDFOIAManager@ed.gov<mailto:EDFOIAManager@ed.gov>) for response.

K Jones

From: Cook, Elise

Dear Mr. Cameron,

Please find attached above, the final response to your fee waiver request.

Elise Cook
Government Information Specialist
FOIA Service Center
Office of The Chief Privacy Officer
US Department of Education
(202) 401-8365

From: Cook, Elise

Dear Mr. Cameron

Please find attached above, the final response to your expedited processing request.

Elise Cook
Government Information Specialist
FOIA Service Center
Office of The Chief Privacy Officer
US Department of Education
(202) 401-8365

From: Cook, Elise

Dear Mr. Cameron,

Please find attached above, the 20 day notification to your FOIA request.

Elise Cook
Government Information Specialist
FOIA Service Center
Office of The Chief Privacy Officer
US Department of Education
(202) 401-8365

From: Dell Cameron

Please use the following email address for any further correspondence, or to send any responsive records electronically.

Contact: foiaquery@gmail.com

Thank you,

Dell Cameron

From: Caliguiran, Arthur

Dear Mr. Cameron,
Please see attached your final response.

Art C. Caliguiran, CIPP/G, FAC COR-II, FAC PM-IT
FOIA Appeals Coordinator
FOIA Analyst
FOIA Service Center, OM/OCPO
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave. SW, Room 218-56
Washington, DC 20202-4510
FOIA Hotline (202) 401-8365

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