FOIA - OSTP - CTO emails regarding COVID-19

J Ader filed this request with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Executive Office of the President) of the United States of America .
Est. Completion None
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From: J Ader

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All emails sent and received from OSTP CTO Michael Kratsios' email mentioning any of the following terms:

- COVID-19
- Coronavirus
- Corona
- Wuhan
- Chinese Virus

I would like to limit the scope of this request to records dated between March 1st, 2020 to the date of this request (May 8th, 2020). Do include any attachments contained in any of the responsive emails to be included in their full form (text documents, spreadsheets, powperpoint slides, etc).

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.


J Ader

From: Office of Science and Technology Policy (Executive Office of the President)

Good morning J Ader,

The email below was sent to you on the 11th of May, but we never received a response. I have forwarded the actual email to you and also included the contents of the correspondence below. Please respond to the issues noted herein.



Dear J. Ader,

Thank you for submitting the request below.

We submitted your request to the e-discovery component and the initial result was over 137 thousand records.

Under long established FOIA precedents, "broad, sweeping requests lacking specificity are not permissible." Marks v. United States (Dep't of Justice), 578 F.2d 261, 263 (9 Cir. 1978), see also, ("Request is too broad which seeks 'all unpublished manuscripts decisions of the Patent Office, together with such indices as are available." Irons v. Schuyler, 151 U.S App. D.C 23(1972)).

The FOIA requires OSTP to make records available only upon a request which "reasonably describes" the records sought. 5 U.S.C. ยง 552(a)(3)(A). "A description 'would be sufficient if it enabled a professional employee of the agency who was familiar with the subject area of the request to locate the record with a reasonable amount of effort." Marks v. United States, 578 F.2d at 263.

As stated above, "broad, sweeping requests lacking specificity are not permissible," thus we are reaching out to you about narrowing the scope of the request. The request needs to be more specific about the particular area of COVID-19 you are interested in. A general reference to memos regarding COVID-19, as shown by the search results, will generate voluminous records containing the word COVID-19, but are not responsive to the request.

One way to narrow this request is to seek communications to or from Dr. Droegemeier or Michael Kratsios (or any other named OSTP official) regarding COVID-19. You can then list the date range for the request. But as written, the request is overly broad, which is impermissible under the FOIA.

If you would like to discuss this matter, please let us know if you're available on Friday as well as the timeframe for your availability.

Thank you.



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