FEMA Homeland Security Grant Program Awards

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2014-FEFO-00289
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Database of all awards granted under the Homeland Security Grant Program for FY2005-FY2013

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, 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,

Shawn Musgrave

From: FEMA-FOIA

Good afternoon Mr. Musgrave:

Thank you for contacting FEMA. This message confirms receipt of your December 7, 2013, FOIA request. You will receive a detailed official acknowledgement letter soon.

Respectfully,

The FEMA Disclosure Branch

From: FEMA-FOIA

Good afternoon Mr. Musgrave,

Attached is the acknowledged receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request, FEMA 2014-FEFO-00289. If you need to contact our office concerning this request, please contact FOIA Team Lead, Monique Booker-Kasper by phone at (202) 212-2302 or electronically at Monique.Booker-Kasper@fema.dhs.gov.

Respectfully,

The FEMA Disclosure Branch

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello,

I have received the acknowledgement letter for 2014-FEFO-00289. This is not a commercial request. As DHS components persist in doing across the board, the FEMA FOIA office is selectively interpreting the DHS Privacy Office memo regarding MuckRock users' fee category.

I am undoubtedly a media requester, and have published extensively about the Department of Homeland Security and its funding of law enforcement technologies. A memo circulated in November 2013 by James Holzer identified a very small and incomplete list of pieces written by me. Here are just a few recent clips:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/12/14/boston-police-suspend-use-high-tech-licence-plate-readers-amid-privacy-concerns/B2hy9UIzC7KzebnGyQ0JNM/story.html

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-feds-have-no-idea-whos-flying-drones

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/fbi-drone-program-documents

I intend to both publish the requested database as well as use my editorial skill to produce original analysis of the data. Thus, I clearly qualify as a media requester.

Please change my requester status immediately.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 7, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-FEFO-00289.

Thank you for your help.

From: Shawn Musgrave

I previously sent you an email on (date) objecting to being considered a commercial requester. In order to avoid any confusion, I want to make sure that you processed that email as a formal appeal of the commercial fee determination.

Please supplement your record with the following information about my media credentials:

I am the editor of the MuckRock (MuckRock.com) website, which publishes original news content on a daily basis. All of MuckRock's content focuses either on FOIA itself or reports off of documents received via public records requests. Below are a number of the dozens of articles I have written for MuckRock:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/nov/06/mr-de-blasio-open-nypd/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/oct/25/librarian-rebukes-nun-over-comic-books/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/oct/03/foia-shutdown-which-agencies-have-put-their-public/

In addition to my capacity as editor of MuckRock, I am also a freelance journalist whose work has been published in such online and print outlets as the Boston Globe, VICE/Motherboard, The Phoenix, The Progressive and Dig Boston. Here are clips of previous articles that I have written for some of these publications:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/10/25/mass-libraries-strikingly-free-censorship/GV3LPCJO4kdzCb3a9HE6HJ/story.html

https://www.motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-nypd-is-foia-proof

http://www.thephoenix.com/boston/news/153301-fung-wahtf/

http://www.digboston.com/boston-news-opinions/2013/10/news-to-us-cambridge-blocks-big-brother/

My coverage of topics from national security and drones to bike politics and bus inspections has been cited by a host of other news outlets at the international, national and local levels. I have received two grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalists, both for projects that revolve around public records investigations.

In short, it could not be clearer that I am, in fact, a journalist.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 7, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-FEFO-00289.

Thank you for your help.

From: FEMA-FOIA

Good morning Mr. Musgrave:

Attached is a copy of the February 21, 2014, final response to MuckRock News' Jason Smathers regarding his appeal of our determination that the FOIA requester (fee) category for MuckRock News requesters is commercial requester. If you need to contact our office concerning this matter, please call us at (202) 646-3323, or electronically at FEMA-FOIA@fema.dhs.gov.

Thank you.

The FEMA Disclosure Branch

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello,

I just attempted to call the phone number provided below. I reached a voicemail line that was indicated to be full, and transferred to a non-working "attendant" number. I am eager to discuss this request at your earliest convenience if you could provide a working number. Barring that, please take the following as a request to reconsider.

In short, this response is entirely inappropriate and contrary to the very spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, not to mention the idea of the democratic free press that requires transparent access to government data and records.

I am a journalist, and FEMA is a government agency. It is my duty to scrutinize FEMA's actions, policy and its employees' behavior in serving the public. In this latest response, your office has failed utterly to uphold its own duties on even a basic administrative level.

The appeal determination you attached was sent to a different person entirely. This ought to have been the first flag that it does not comprise a valid response to my wholly separate and vastly different appeal.

Mr. Smathers, who penned the appeal addressed in the attachment, also presented an entirely separate set of arguments regarding his appropriate fee category. I argued and presented extensive backing for my categorization as a journalist, in light of my considerable publication history on the topic at hand (national security, law enforcement and public safety spending).

Your response makes a mockery of the system you claim to uphold, and I will pursue every avenue possible to appeal it.

Before I do so, I want to give you the opportunity to address the clear logical and legal missteps the FEMA FOIA office has undertaken. Please let me know at your earliest convenience if this message was sent in error or if you have reconsidered your response.

I await a response at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 7, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-FEFO-00289.

Thank you for your help.

From: Federal Emergency Management Agency

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 7, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-FEFO-00289.

Thank you for your help.

From: Cochran, Terry

Mr. Musgrave,
Attached, please find your response regarding your appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Thank you and best regards,

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Records Management Division
Mission Support

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Mr. Cochran's letter indicates that FEMA released documents to me on March 3, 2015. These documents were not received. Please resend.

Thank you,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock

From: Jankowski, Roman

Attached are your documents.

Roman Jankowski
FOIA Team Lead
Mission Support, OCAO
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Office 202.646.4541
Mobile 202.716.8977

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Thank you for sending. Could you send the documents in their original spreadsheet format?

Thank you,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock

From: Jankowski, Roman

Here you go.

Roman Jankowski
FOIA Team Lead
Mission Support, OCAO
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Office 202.646.4541
Mobile 202.716.8977

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