FOIA March Madness 2017 - I- Appeal logs, procedures, letters, opinions (US Trade Representative)

Beryl Lipton filed this request with the U.S. Trade Representative of the United States of America.
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Communications

From: Beryl Lipton

To Whom It May Concern:

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

1. Any available log of appeals submitted to this agency or the agency tasked with processing Freedom of Information Act appeals for this division. Please provide such logs for the period from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. Please, if possible, include with the log the following items:
• the request number associated with the FOIA in question
• the appeal number assigned to the appeal
• the description of the subject matter addressed by the request
• the division or office of initial receipt
• the date on which the appeal was received
• the date on which the appeal was closed
• the determination or final disposition status of the appeal

2. All appeal letters and opinion letters associated with appeals for which the determination was to reverse, in whole or in part, the decision of the initial request agency. Please provide such letters for appeals closed during the period from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016.

3. All appeal letters and opinion letters associated with appeals for which the determination was to remand the request to the appropriate agency. Please provide such letters for appeals closed during the period from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016.

4. All appeal letters and opinion letters associated with appeals for which the determination was to affirm the decision of the initial agency. Please provide such letters for appeals closed during the period from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016.

5. Any instructive or guiding materials provided to and/or utilized by employees of this department’s Freedom of Information Act office. Please include any manuals, procedural materials, reference guides, checklists, training materials, flow charts, directives, memorandums, legal decisions, presentations, or similar material used in the process of an appeal by this office or the office tasked to process FOIA appeals for this office. Any guiding materials used for the preparation of an appeal package should be considered responsive to, though not the entirety of, this element of this request.

6. The name and contact information for the appropriate appeal authority to whom appeals for this agency should be directed. If such information exists as part of a template letter sent to requesters, provision of this document will be considered satisfactory.

Please provide responsive materials on a rolling basis.

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,

Beryl Lipton

From: Ricker, Monique T. EOP/USTR

Ms. Lipton,

For future reference, Jacqui Caldwell is retiring at the end of March. Please direct future FOIA inquiries to FOIA@ustr.eop.gov. I would appreciate it if you would also let your colleagues know.

The USTR FOIA office received your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated March 14, 2017 and assigned it tracking number FY17-48. Please cite this number in any future communications with our office regarding your request.

After a search of our files, we have located the following twelve (12) responsive documents totaling 22 pages:

1. USTR FOIA Appeals Log for 2015 and 2016: we are releasing this document in full.

2-3. All appeal letters and opinion letters associated with appeals for which the determination was to reverse/remand: We are releasing two (2) documents in full. Portions of the remaining three (3) documents have been redacted because we reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by FOIA Exemption 6, which protects personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The information that has been withheld under Exemption 6 consists of personal information, and we have determined that the individuals to whom this information pertains have a substantial privacy interest in withholding it. Additionally, we have determined that the disclosure of this information would shed little or no light on the performance of the agency’s statutory duties. Because the harm to personal privacy is greater than whatever public interest may be served by disclosure, release of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the privacy of this individual and we are withholding it under Exemption 6.

4. All appeal letters and opinion letters associated with appeals for which the determination was to affirm: We are releasing six (6) documents in part. Portions have been redacted because we reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by FOIA Exemption 6.

5. Any instructive or guiding materials are publicly available. Please visit https://ustr.gov/about-us/reading-room/freedom-information-act-foia/foia-reference-guide.

6. Name and contact information for the appropriate appeal authority: Fred Ames, FOIA Appeals Official, Mailing address: FOIA Office, Office of the US Trade Representative, Anacostia Naval Annex, Building 410/Door 123, 250 Murray Lane SW, Washington DC 20509, Email address: FOIA@ustr.eop.gov.

This constitutes a complete response to your request. You may contact me at 202-395-4990 for any further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request. Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer. The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, Maryland 20740-6001, e-mail at ogis@nara.gov; telephone at 202-741-5770; toll free at 1-877-684-6448; or facsimile at 202-741-5769.

If you are not satisfied with the response to this request, you may also administratively appeal by writing to: USTR FOIA Appeals Committee, GSD/RDF; Fred Ames, Anacostia Naval Annex, Bldg. 410/Door 123, 250 Murray Lane, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20509.

Your appeal must be postmarked or electronically transmitted within 90 days of the date of the response to your request. Both the letter and the envelope should be clearly marked: “Freedom of Information Act Appeal" and should include a reference to the FOIA Case File number listed below. Heightened security in force may delay mail delivery; therefore we suggest that you also email any such appeal to foia@ustr.eop.gov.

In the event you are dissatisfied with the results of any such appeal, judicial review will thereafter be available to you in the United States District Court for the judicial district in which you reside or have your principal place of business, or in the District of Columbia, where we searched for the records you requested.

Thank you,
Monique

Monique T. Ricker
FOIA Program Manager/Attorney

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
WASHINGTON DC 20508

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello Ms. Ricker,

Thank you so much for your quick response! Would it be possible to receive the initial appeal letters that the requesters sent to your agency?

Thanks again for your help!
Beryl

From: Ricker, Monique T. EOP/USTR

Beryl,

I apologize for the oversight on my part. Please find attached the following appeal letters:
1. FY16, 16101404, William Kirsch received 10/14/2015
2. FY16, 16021746, William Kirsch received 3/25/2016
3. FY16, 16052473, Baruch Gottesman received 6/2/2016
4. FY15, 15030322, Rosemary Johnson received 3/18/2015
5. FY15, 15060359, Carol Dansereau received 6/19/2015
6. FY15, 15090594, William Kirsch received 9/12/2015
7. FY15, 1510917, Aaron Mackey received 9/15/2015
8. FY15, 1542748, Christina Marlowe, received 5/14/2015

Portions of the documents are redacted because we reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by FOIA Exemption 6, which protects personal information. We have determined that the individuals to whom this information pertains have a substantial privacy interest in withholding it and that the disclosure of this information would shed little or no light on the performance of the agency’s statutory duties. Because the harm to personal privacy is greater than whatever public interest may be served by disclosure, release of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the privacy of this individual and we are withholding it under Exemption 6.

I have not yet located the appeal letters for the remaining 4 appeals, however, I have asked my FOIA colleagues who have worked at USTR longer than me to search their individual folders.
1. 162729, William Kirsch, received 2/25/2016
2. 16101307, William Kirsch, received 2/20/2016
3. 1309139395, Katherine Kriegman, Bloomberg, received 3/4/2015

Because I will be out of the office tomorrow, I did not want to delay releasing the letters I found. I will be back in touch early next week.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

Thank you,
Monique

Monique T. Ricker
FOIA Program Manager/Attorney

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
WASHINGTON DC 20508

From: Ricker, Monique T. EOP/USTR

Beryl,

Thank you again for your patience while we located the final 3 incoming appeals letters:
1. 162729, William Kirsch, received 2/25/2016
2. 16101307, William Kirsch, received 2/20/2016 (2 jpg pages)
3. 1309139395, Katherine Kriegman, Bloomberg, received 3/4/2015

We are releasing them to you in full.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

This constitutes a complete response to your request. You may contact me at 202-395-4990 for any further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request. Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer. The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, Maryland 20740-6001, e-mail at ogis@nara.gov; telephone at 202-741-5770; toll free at 1-877-684-6448; or facsimile at 202-741-5769.

If you are not satisfied with the response to this request, you may also administratively appeal by writing to: USTR FOIA Appeals Committee, GSD/RDF; Fred Ames, Anacostia Naval Annex, Bldg. 410/Door 123, 250 Murray Lane, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20509.

Your appeal must be postmarked or electronically transmitted within 90 days of the date of the response to your request. Both the letter and the envelope should be clearly marked: “Freedom of Information Act Appeal" and should include a reference to the FOIA Case File number listed below. Heightened security in force may delay mail delivery; therefore we suggest that you also email any such appeal to foia@ustr.eop.gov.

In the event you are dissatisfied with the results of any such appeal, judicial review will thereafter be available to you in the United States District Court for the judicial district in which you reside or have your principal place of business, or in the District of Columbia, where we searched for the records you requested.

Thank you,
Monique

Monique T. Ricker
FOIA Program Manager/Attorney

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
WASHINGTON DC 20508

From: Beryl Lipton

Ms. Ricker,

Thank you *so* much for your response to this request. We'll let you know if we have any other questions, and I really hope the rest of your week is lovely.

Best wishes,
Beryl

From: Ricker, Monique T. EOP/USTR

Thank you, Beryl.

I hope you have a great week, too.

Monique

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