Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions - National Park Service

Robert Teel filed this request with the National Park Service of the United States of America.
Tracking # NPS-2016-00466
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Robert Teel

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Please provide copies of:

(1) all slips, receipts, reports, notes, memoranda, correspondence, logs, spreadsheets, emails, documents, contracts, agreements, statements, writings, recordings, records, or other information, about, in connection with, or of any and all payment, debit, or credit card receipts which were printed with: (a) more than the last five digits of the primary account or card number on the receipt; or (b) the expiration date of the card, printed by, made by, provided by, received by, or in connection with any transaction at any protected area, national park or facility owned, operated, managed, or protected by the National Park Service or any other government agency, or non-government entity which accepts payment, debit, or credit cards, including without limitation the national parks set for below, for the period from January 1, 2012 to the present; and

(2) all contracts, agreements, correspondence, documents, statements, writings, and recordings (mechanical, electronic, typed or written), including but not limited to, letters, memoranda, notes, recordings, reports, logs, spreadsheets, statements, and transcriptions by and between any payment, debit, or credit card processing company and the National Park Service or any other government agency, or non-government entity, in the possession of, or subject to the control of the National Park Service or such payment, debit, or credit card processor for the period form January 1, 2012 to the present.

List of National Parks:

• Acadia National Park
• Arches National Park
• Badlands National Park
• Big Bend National Park
• Biscayne National Park
• Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
• Bryce Canyon National Park
• Canyonlands National Park
• Capitol Reef National Park
• Carlsbad Caverns National Park
• Channel Islands National Park
• Congaree National Park
• Crater Lake National Park
• Cuyahoga Valley National Park
• Death Valley National Park
• Denali National Park & Preserve
• Dry Tortugas National Park
• Everglades National Park
• Gates of the Arctic National Park
• Glacier Bay National Park
• Glacier National Park
• Grand Canyon National Park
• Grand Teton National Park
• Great Basin National Park
• Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
• Great Smoky Mountains National Park
• Guadalupe Mountains National Park
• Haleakala National Park
• Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
• Hot Springs National Park
• Isle Royale National Park
• Joshua Tree National Park
• Katmai National Park and Preserve
• Kenai Fjords National Park
• Kings Canyon National Park
• Kobuk Valley National Park
• Lake Clark National Park
• Lassen Volcanic National Park
• Mammoth Cave National Park
• Mesa Verde National Park
• Mount Rainier National Park
• National Park of American Samoa
• North Cascades National Park
• Olympic National Park
• Petrified Forest National Park
• Redwood National Park
• Rocky Mountain National Park
• Saguaro National Park
• Sequoia National Park
• Shenandoah National Park
• Theodore Roosevelt National Park
• Virgin Islands National Park
• Voyageurs National Park
• Wind Cave National Park
• Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve
• Yellowstone National Park
• Yosemite National Park
• Zion National Park

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,

Robert Teel

From: FOIA, NPS

Mr. Teel,

We have received your request and have assigned it tracking number
NPS-2016-00466. All future correspondence relating to this request should
reference this tracking number. You have been classified as OTHER for the
purposes of calculating fees, which entitles you to two free hours of
search time and up to 100 free pages.

Please note, at this time we are unable to begin processing your request as
there are unresolved issues relating to fees. Firstly, it is not clear
from your request if you are asking for a fee waiver. If you are seeking a
fee waiver you will need to explicitly request one and in accordance with
43 CFR 2.45(d) the burden on on you to justify your entitlement to a fee
waiver. You may refer to 43 CFR 2.48
<http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?type=simple;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;sid=b254c1e1071eb2bc9a0cdee92684222b;idno=43;region=DIV1;q1=part%202;rgn=div5;view=text;node=43%3A1.1.1.1.2#se43.1.2_148>to
see the criteria that is used to evaluate fee waiver requests.

If you are not seeking a fee waiver, please let me know that so that we can
begin preparing a cost estimate, since we have already determined that the
costs to process your request exceed the two free hours of search time you
are entitled to as an OTHER requester.

In accordance with 43 CFR 2.5 and 2.51, if we do not hear from you in
writing within 20 workdays we will assume you are no longer interested in
this matter and will close the file on your request.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Robert Teel

Thank you Ms. Wilson,

I will review 43 CFR 2.48 and follow up with you in the next few days. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

From: Robert Teel

Dear Ms. Wilson,

Please consider this as the undersigned’s request for a fee waiver in accordance with 43 CFR 2.45(d). Set forth below is the information needed to support the request, meet the criteria, and justify entitlement for the waiver under applicable law.

I am a human rights and consumer advocate working through a U.S. based online journalism organization in connection with my research and investigation into the growing problem of identity theft in our society and the steps our government is taking to address the problem in its departmental operations and activities. In 2003, our government passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act setting standards for the masking, sharing, and disposal of sensitive financial data, such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

In response to FACTA, several federal agencies crafted joint regulations that require agencies and institutions to adopt identity theft prevention programs and take precautionary measures. Today, identity theft is an important issue and it is in the public interest to understand our government's programs, policies, and measures taken in this regard in its operations and activities.

Disclosure of the requested materials will inform the public, and contribute significantly to its understanding, of the Park Service’s FACTA compliant identity theft programs, policies, and measures. The public interest in these records goes beyond the Park Service, and is intended to contribute to the public’s understanding of what standards our government uses as a whole in its operations and activities in connection with the public’s sensitive financial data.

I write and release posts and articles in this subject area and intend to publish and disseminate a series of articles using these materials through both electronic and print media. The materials and information received will be immediately published on the website of the journalism organization MuckRock in order to encourage additional journalism around it.

To date, Muckrock has released approximately 882,973 pages of materials from 6,321 fulfilled requests from 5,540 government agencies. In the last twelve-month period, Muckrock received over one million (1,000,000) unique visitors to its website.

I am unaware of any prior public release of this information and the release of these materials will serve to greatly enhance the public level of understanding the government’s identity theft programs, policies, and measures through disclosure. Any gathering and disclosure of these newsworthy materials that furthers the public’s understand of the government’s role in preventing identity theft is of great, significant, and legitimate public interest and outweighs any potential commercial value or interest in these materials.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

From: FOIA, NPS

I will respond to your message when I return on April 4, 2016.

Sincerely,

C.
--
____________________ Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO  80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov (mailto:charis_wilson@nps.gov) "What we find changes whowe become." - Peter Morville "The historian works with records...thereis no substitute for records: no records, no history." - ParaphrasingLanglois & Seignobos (1903) "Let us be guardians, notgardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness editorial - Attributedto Adolph Murie

From: Robert Teel

Thank you Charis.

From: NPS FOIA

United States Department of the Interior

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

12795 W. Alameda Parkway

P.O. Box 25287

Denver, Colorado 80225-0287

May 6, 2016

A7221 (2550)

Robert L. Teel

4275 Executive Square, Suite 200

La Jolla, CA 92037

Dear Mr. Teel:

Reference: Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions

Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request NPS-2016-00466

This letter is in reference to the FOIA request you filed on March 30, 2016, in which you requested two categories of records relating to credit card transactions at any area owned, operated, managed, or protected by the National Park Service since January 1, 2012.

In your request you had asked for a statutory fee waiver. In accordance with 43 CFR 2.45(a)(1) the National Park Service will grant a fee waiver when disclosing the information is:

1. In the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations or activities, and

2. Not primarily in your commercial interest.

In determining whether your request is in the public interest, the National Park Service considered the following criteria:

(1) How the records concern the operations or activities of the Federal government,

(2) How disclosure is likely to contribute to public understanding of those operations or activities,

(3) How disclosure is likely to significantly contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to your individual understanding, and

(4) How the public's understanding of the subject in question will be enhanced to a significant extent by the disclosure.

The records you have requested would relate to credit card transactions involving National Park Service activities. Accordingly your request meets the first public interest criterion.

In your request you stated you are a “human rights and consumer advocate”. However, you failed to provide any information documenting that you have the skills or abilities to analyze or disseminate the requested information in such a manner as to be informative to a reasonably broad audience. For example, you provided no information as to how your education or work experience would have provided you with expertise in the area of credit card transaction processing. We are therefore unable to determine how the release of this information to you would be likely to contribute to the public’s understanding of the operations or activities of the National Park Service rather than your personal understanding. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the second criterion.

Your fee waiver request also failed to address whether and to what degree the information you are requesting has been previously released or made publicly available. In your April 3, e-mail you indicated that you intend to publish and disseminate a series of articles using these materials through both electronic and print media. However, you did not provide any records documenting a past publishing history or information as to which media you proposed to publish your articles in. Nor can we find any past history of publication. You also indicated that you intend to post the materials online at Muckrock.com. However, you failed to provide any information as to how the passive posting of raw record material on the MuckRock site meets the burden of demonstrating with particularity how such a posting will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of National Park Service activities relating to the processing of credit card transactions. Accordingly your request fails to meet the third criterion. For similar reasons, it also fails to meet the fourth criterion.

Your request provides no further information as to the nature of your work. Therefore, it appears that the release of this information is in your commercial interest, and you have not provides sufficient information for us to find otherwise.

In order to grant a fee waiver, the applicant’s request must meet all of the requirements listed above. Because your request fails to meet the second, third, and fourth criteria and is primarily in your commercial interest your request for a fee waiver is denied.

Pursuant to regulation, 43 CFR 2.47 the following person is responsible for this decision:

Charis Wilson

NPS FOIA Officer

Additionally the following attorney was consulted during the preparation of this response:

Jason Waanders, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor

U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

You have the right to appeal this fee waiver determination, if your request has been denied. You may file an appeal by writing to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeals Officer

Office of the Solicitor

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW

MS-6556-MIB,

Washington, D.C. 20240

foia.appeals@sol.doi.gov

Your appeal must be received no later than 30 workdays after the date of this response. The appeal should be marked, both on the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL." Your appeal should be accompanied by a copy of your original request and copies of all correspondence between yourself and the National Park Service related to this request, along with any information you have which leads you to believe our decision is in error. Please note appeals received after 5 p.m. EST will be considered to have been received as of the following day.

Also as part of the 2007 OPEN Government Act FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation.

You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

National Archives and Records Administration

Room 2510

8601 Adelphi Road

College Park, MD 20740-6001

E-mail: ogis@nara.gov

Phone: 301-837-1996

Fax: 301-837-0348

Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

In your request you asked that we provide you with an estimate of the total charges in advance of fulfilling your request. We have classified you as a commercial requester, which requires that we charge you for all search, review, and copy costs.

We have determined that our Accounting Operation Center (AOC) office would not have the records you are requesting as the hard copy receipts, which are kept for only a year, are maintained within the files of each park or office that handles credit card transactions. Therefore in order to process your request, we will need to contact each of the 411 NPS units and request they conduct a search of their files. We are currently estimating that it would take at least 30 minutes per park to perform such a search, which means that we are estimating that it will take more than 205 hours to search for responsive records. The hourly rate for clerical staff to conduct a search would be billed at $24, which means our current estimate for search charges alone comes to $4,932. The actual search costs could be higher if the staff who performs the search is not in the clerical salary range.

Additionally, because the records you are requesting could contain personally identifiable information (PII) we will be required to review every receipt and mark for redaction any PII before we can release any records to you. As a commercial requester, we are required to charge you for the time it takes us to perform this review. At this time, however, since we have no way of knowing how many potentially responsive records would be located during the search, we are unable to provide you with an estimate of the time it will take to conduct this review or the associated costs for that review. Nor can we provide you with an estimate of the copy charges. Accordingly, the $4,932 estimate is only for search charges.

The actual search costs could exceed this amount. If that occurs we will stop processing your request and will provide you with a modified fee estimate for your approval before we would continue processing your request.

In accordance with 43 CFR 2.50 because the estimated costs exceed $250 and we do not show that you have paid FOIA fees in the past we are required to collect the $4,932 in advance. If you are still interested in obtaining these records, please make your check payable to the National Park Service and mail it, along with a copy of this letter to my attention at the address above. You also have the right to modify your request in order to reduce the estimated fees, for example limiting your request to records held by one or two specific NPS units, for example the ten units with the highest visitation rates in the past fiscal year. In accordance with 43 CFR 2.51 if we do not receive your payment or receive a written modification of your request within 20 workdays, we will assume you are no longer interested in this matter and will close the file on your request.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions or concerns. I can be reached at the address above or by phone at 303-969-2959. I can also be reached via e-mail at charis_wilson@nps.gov.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, Ph.D., CRM

NPS FOIA Officer

12795 W. Alameda Parkway

PO Box 25287

Denver, CO 80225-0287

303-969-2959

Fax: 303-969-2557

1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

Charis Wilson

NPS FOIA Officer

From: Robert Teel

Hi Charis,

Thank you for the cost estimate. I will review your correspondence and follow up in the next few days. Perhaps I can narrow the scope of the request by time frame and the number of which would hopefully reduce the cost by a proportionate amount.

Sincerely,

Robert Teel

From: Robert Teel

Hello again Charis,

Without waiving any rights or appeals in connection with the denial of the fee waiver request, could you provide two additional estimates for my earlier request, only limited to:

(a) the calendar year 2015 for Yellowstone National Park only; and

(b) the calendar month of May 2015 for Yellowstone National Park only?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

From: FOIA, NPS

Mr. Teel,

As requested we are providing you with a fee estimate for the processing
costs for limiting your request to records held by Yellowstone National
Park for 1.) All available 2015 records and 2.) Only May 2015 records.

The estimated processing costs for all available 2015 records comes to
$257,261.60, while the costs for only May 2015 data comes to $11,067. This
estimate was calculated as follows:

[image: Inline image 1]

These estimates are based on the following:

1. Your fee category has been modified from OTHER to COMMERCIAL.
Accordingly we are required to charge you for search time, review time, and
copies.

2. The estimate includes costs for time spent converting the records from
hardcopy to format. These charges are in accordance with 43 CFR 2.44(b),
which allows us to charge you for the cost of converting records that are
not already maintained in the requested format. In this case converting
receipts from the paper, hardcopy format they are maintained in to the
electronic format you have requested.

Because this amount exceeds $250 and we do not show that you have paid FOIA
fees in the past, we are required
<http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?type=simple;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;sid=b254c1e1071eb2bc9a0cdee92684222b;idno=43;region=DIV1;q1=part%202;rgn=div5;view=text;node=43%3A1.1.1.1.2#se43.1.2_150>to
collect payment for the full estimated amount in advance before we can
begin processing your request. You do, however, have the right to further
modify your request in order to limit the scope of your request in order to
reduce the fees. For example, limiting your request to a limited number of
receipts such as a random sample of the May receipts or receipts issued
only on specific date.

In accordance with 43 CFR 2.51, if we do not receive either a payment of
the estimated amount or a written further modification of the scope of your
request within 20 workdays of this e-mail, we will assume you are no longer
interested in this matter and will close the file on your request. If you
feel this estimate is in error, you have the right to file an appeal, in
accordance with the instructions we provided in our earlier estimate
letter. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have
regarding this estimate or your FOIA request.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: FOIA, NPS

Mr. Teel,

As requested we are providing you with a fee estimate for the processing
costs for limiting your request to records held by Yellowstone National
Park for 1.) All available 2015 records and 2.) Only May 2015 records.

The estimated processing costs for all available 2015 records comes to
$257,261.60, while the costs for only May 2015 data comes to $11,067. This
estimate was calculated as follows:

[image: Inline image 1]

These estimates are based on the following:

1. Your fee category has been modified from OTHER to COMMERCIAL.
Accordingly we are required to charge you for search time, review time, and
copies.

2. The estimate includes costs for time spent converting the records from
hardcopy to electronic format. These charges are in accordance with 43 CFR
2.44(b), which allows us to charge you for the cost of converting records
that are not already maintained in the requested format, in this case
converting receipts from the paper, hardcopy format they are maintained in
to the electronic format you have requested.

Because this amount exceeds $250 and we do not show that you have paid FOIA
fees in the past, we are required
<http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?type=simple;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;sid=b254c1e1071eb2bc9a0cdee92684222b;idno=43;region=DIV1;q1=part%202;rgn=div5;view=text;node=43%3A1.1.1.1.2#se43.1.2_150>to
collect payment for the full estimated amount in advance before we can
begin processing your request. You do, however, have the right to further
modify your request in order to modify the scope of your request in order
to reduce the estimated fees. For example, you could limit your request to
a random sample of 100 May receipts or you could limit your request to
receipts issued on specific date.

In accordance with 43 CFR 2.51, if we do not receive either a payment of
the estimated amount or a written further modification of the scope of your
request within 20 workdays of this e-mail, we will assume you are no longer
interested in this matter and will close the file on your request. If you
feel this estimate is in error, you have the right to file an appeal, in
accordance with the instructions we provided in our earlier estimate
letter. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have
regarding this estimate or your FOIA request.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Robert Teel

Thank you Charis,

I will follow up with you in next few days. In the meantime, please do not incur any charges.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

From: Robert Teel

Hi Charis,

In order to avoid needless expenditures of resources, I would like to know if you would stipulate to mediate the denial of the fee waiver request and classification under the 2007 OPEN Government Act FOIA amendments with the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). Of course, that would not operate as a waiver of any of the undersigned rights or remedies (including the pending appeal), which are hereby expressly reserved.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

cc: (via email only)
Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
Room 2510
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
E-mail: ogis@nara.gov
Phone: 301-837-1996
Fax: 301-837-0348
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

From: FOIA, NPS

Mr. Teel,

Our May 6, 2016, e-mail denying your fee waiver request provided
information about OGIS, its role, and ways to contact it.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, PhD, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA
charis_wilson@nps.gov

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Robert Teel

The undersigned, for his request for reconsideration and appeal of the his fee waiver, submits the following.

Ground for Denial – Ability to Disseminate

1) “In your request you stated you are a “human rights and consumer advocate”. However, you failed to provide any information documenting that you have the skills or abilities to analyze or disseminate the requested information in such a manner as to be informative to a reasonably broad audience. For example, you provided no information as to how your education or work experience would have provided you with expertise in the area of credit card transaction processing. We are therefore unable to determine how the release of this information to you would be likely to contribute to the public’s understanding of the operations or activities of the National Park Service rather than your personal understanding. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the second criterion.”

Reply to Denial for Inability to Disseminate

First, as to my education, I have two bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California (1981) and a Masters in Business Administration and Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas (1986).

Next, as to my work experience, I practiced law in the finance, health care, and business litigation areas for 20 years and practiced pro-bono as a court appointed special advocate for gang-related foster children and in connection with Truth-In-Lending advocacy during the last financial mortgage crisis. In addition, I ran group of investment partnerships from 1996 to 2010. I do not claim to be an expert in credit card processing, hence the reason for the request. I am, however, extensively experienced in financial transactions and the law.

Ground for Denial – Prior Release, Past Publishing History, Significant Contribution to Public Understanding

2) “Your fee waiver request also failed to address whether and to what degree the information you are requesting has been previously released or made publicly available. In your April 3, e-mail you indicated that you intend to publish and disseminate a series of articles using these materials through both electronic and print media. However, you did not provide any records documenting a past publishing history or information as to which media you proposed to publish your articles in. Nor can we find any past history of publication. You also indicated that you intend to post the materials online at Muckrock.com. However, you failed to provide any information as to how the passive posting of raw record material on the MuckRock site meets the burden of demonstrating with particularity how such a posting will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of National Park Service activities relating to the processing of credit card transactions. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the third criterion. For similar reasons, it also fails to meet the fourth criterion.”

Reply to Denial on Grounds of Prior Release, Past Publishing History, and Significant Contribution to Public Understanding

My request states I am unaware or any prior release of the information I am requesting and that I do not know of any public availability of such information.

In connection with my various interests over the years, I have maintained web pages for informational and educational use without profit, linking those who have an interest in the information to various news reporting, informational, and educational resources. I make the material available in an effort to advance the understanding of legal issues, human rights, consumer and investor protection, economic and political developments, and issues of social justice

I make no claim as to my writing ability, but I do have a Kansas Law Journal research credit dating as far back as 1986. The media for publishing the requested materials is electronic, and in particular on the MuckRock site. I will use social media accounts on such services as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, Wordpress, Reddit, Tumblr, Pocket, Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, and Xing to reach a wide audience for the information and drive traffic to the MuckRock site containing the documents.

The online journalism publisher MuckRock is the company to which I intend to release the requested information. The purpose for seeking the requested material is as set forth in my original request. I have a professional and personal relationship with MuckRock and have published thousands of pages of documents on their site. MuckRock has a proven ability to disseminate the the information to the public having over 1,000,000 unique visitors to its site.

To quote Senators Leahy and Hatch, as cosponsors of the FOIA amendment regarding public-interest fee waivers, “[p]ublic understanding is enhanced when information is disclosed to the subset of the public most interested, concerned, or affected by a particular action or matter. It is intended that the word ‘significantly’ . . . [and] the qualifying word ‘public’ be applied so as to require a breadth of benefit beyond any particularly narrow interests that might be presented.”

Ground for Denial on Nature of Work

3) Your request provides no further information as to the nature of your work. Therefore, it appears that the release of this information is in your commercial interest, and you have not provides sufficient information for us to find otherwise.

Reply to Denial for Nature of Work

As to the nature of my work, my request states I am a consumer affairs advocate. In addition, under applicable law, I may be considered a representative of the news media.

On August 25, 2015 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case of Cause of Action v. Federal Trade Commission articulated and interpreted FOIA public-interest fee waiver elements and held that "a representative of the news media is, in essence, a person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.”

To qualify as a “representative of the news media.” A requester must: (1) gather information of potential interest (2) to a segment of the public; (3) use its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work; and (4) distribute that work (5) to an audience. The focus is on the is on the requestor and not on the nature of the request regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which the information is requested.

Posting content to a public website qualifies as a means of distributing it to an audience and nothing prevents a requestor from producing “distinct work” that is based exclusively on documents obtained through FOIA.

A track record is not required. To qualify, firm intent can be established by submissions to the agency to produce and distribute the documents described. There is no indication that Congress meant to make the lack of a prior publication record disqualifying. Muckrock is an entity with an extensive record. That combined with a present intent to publish is sufficient to establish the fee waiver as a representative of the media.

Requestor respectfully submits the foregoing for reconsideration and appeal of the undersigned’s FOIA fee waiver request.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Teel

From: Robert Teel

Please consider the foregoing June 8, 2016 correspondence as the undersigned request for appeal.

Sincerely,
Robert Teel

From: MuckRock

The undersigned, for his request for reconsideration and appeal of the his fee waiver, submits the following.

Ground for Denial – Ability to Disseminate

1) “In your request you stated you are a “human rights and consumer advocate”. However, you failed to provide any information documenting that you have the skills or abilities to analyze or disseminate the requested information in such a manner as to be informative to a reasonably broad audience. For example, you provided no information as to how your education or work experience would have provided you with expertise in the area of credit card transaction processing. We are therefore unable to determine how the release of this information to you would be likely to contribute to the public’s understanding of the operations or activities of the National Park Service rather than your personal understanding. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the second criterion.”

Reply to Denial for Inability to Disseminate

First, as to my education, I have two bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California (1981) and a Masters in Business Administration and Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas (1986).

Next, as to my work experience, I practiced law in the finance, health care, and business litigation areas for 20 years and practiced pro-bono as a court appointed special advocate for gang-related foster children and in connection with Truth-In-Lending advocacy during the last financial mortgage crisis. In addition, I ran group of investment partnerships from 1996 to 2010. I do not claim to be an expert in credit card processing, hence the reason for the request. I am, however, extensively experienced in financial transactions and the law.

Ground for Denial – Prior Release, Past Publishing History, Significant Contribution to Public Understanding

2) “Your fee waiver request also failed to address whether and to what degree the information you are requesting has been previously released or made publicly available. In your April 3, e-mail you indicated that you intend to publish and disseminate a series of articles using these materials through both electronic and print media. However, you did not provide any records documenting a past publishing history or information as to which media you proposed to publish your articles in. Nor can we find any past history of publication. You also indicated that you intend to post the materials online at Muckrock.com. However, you failed to provide any information as to how the passive posting of raw record material on the MuckRock site meets the burden of demonstrating with particularity how such a posting will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of National Park Service activities relating to the processing of credit card transactions. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the third criterion. For similar reasons, it also fails to meet the fourth criterion.”

Reply to Denial on Grounds of Prior Release, Past Publishing History, and Significant Contribution to Public Understanding

My request states I am unaware or any prior release of the information I am requesting and that I do not know of any public availability of such information.

In connection with my various interests over the years, I have maintained web pages for informational and educational use without profit, linking those who have an interest in the information to various news reporting, informational, and educational resources. I make the material available in an effort to advance the understanding of legal issues, human rights, consumer and investor protection, economic and political developments, and issues of social justice

I make no claim as to my writing ability, but I do have a Kansas Law Journal research credit dating as far back as 1986. The media for publishing the requested materials is electronic, and in particular on the MuckRock site. I will use social media accounts on such services as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, Wordpress, Reddit, Tumblr, Pocket, Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, and Xing to reach a wide audience for the information and drive traffic to the MuckRock site containing the documents.

The online journalism publisher MuckRock is the company to which I intend to release the requested information. The purpose for seeking the requested material is as set forth in my original request. I have a professional and personal relationship with MuckRock and have published thousands of pages of documents on their site. MuckRock has a proven ability to disseminate the the information to the public having over 1,000,000 unique visitors to its site.

To quote Senators Leahy and Hatch, as cosponsors of the FOIA amendment regarding public-interest fee waivers, “[p]ublic understanding is enhanced when information is disclosed to the subset of the public most interested, concerned, or affected by a particular action or matter. It is intended that the word ‘significantly’ . . . [and] the qualifying word ‘public’ be applied so as to require a breadth of benefit beyond any particularly narrow interests that might be presented.”

Ground for Denial on Nature of Work

3) Your request provides no further information as to the nature of your work. Therefore, it appears that the release of this information is in your commercial interest, and you have not provides sufficient information for us to find otherwise.

Reply to Denial for Nature of Work

As to the nature of my work, my request states I am a consumer affairs advocate. In addition, under applicable law, I may be considered a representative of the news media.

On August 25, 2015 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case of Cause of Action v. Federal Trade Commission articulated and interpreted FOIA public-interest fee waiver elements and held that "a representative of the news media is, in essence, a person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.”

To qualify as a “representative of the news media.” A requester must: (1) gather information of potential interest (2) to a segment of the public; (3) use its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work; and (4) distribute that work (5) to an audience. The focus is on the is on the requestor and not on the nature of the request regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which the information is requested.

Posting content to a public website qualifies as a means of distributing it to an audience and nothing prevents a requestor from producing “distinct work” that is based exclusively on documents obtained through FOIA.

A track record is not required. To qualify, firm intent can be established by submissions to the agency to produce and distribute the documents described. There is no indication that Congress meant to make the lack of a prior publication record disqualifying. Muckrock is an entity with an extensive record. That combined with a present intent to publish is sufficient to establish the fee waiver as a representative of the media.

Requestor respectfully submits the foregoing for reconsideration and appeal of the undersigned’s FOIA fee waiver request.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Teel

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