FOIA Processing Notes

Jay Gairson filed this request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the United States of America.
Tracking # APP2013001865
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Jay Gairson

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Please provide the FOIA Processing Notes for the following cases:

1) COW2013000454; and
2) COW2013000536.

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,

Jay Gairson

From: Schuley, Phillip H

Dear Mr.

We are in receipt of your e-mail requesting "processing notes" for COW2013000454 and COW2013000536. However, we are not understanding exactly what documentation you are seeking. Would you please set forth your request with specificity

Phil Schuley

Significant Interest Group

USCIS/NRC

816-350-5500 ext. 5137

Phillip.H.Schuley@USCIS.dhs.gov

From: Jay Gairson

Dear Mr. Schuley:

My apologies for not fully defining the standard operational term "processing notes". If, based on my definition below, USCIS uses a different term or terms for these documents than other government agencies, I would appreciate knowing what that term is or those terms are so that future requests or inquiries can be made with greater specificity and avoid confusion.

The documents referred to by the term "processing notes" are in relationship to USCIS FOIA cases COS2013000454 and COW2013000536. The term "processing notes" means the following:

"Remarks, comments, notes, explanations, etc. made by your personnel or contractors about the processing of the above referenced requests, the invocation of exemptions, and related matters. This is to include any analysts' notes made during the processing of the requests, any standard worksheets completed by the analysts, any justifications for exemption invocations or other supporting documentation provided, and any correspondence referencing the requests, including tasking orders, emails, memos, and coordinating documentation. However, any records previously released to me - the original requestor in the above referenced FOIA cases - in unredacted form may be excluded from this request."

Please let me know if you have any further questions or need any additional clarification or specificity.

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

From: Schuley, Phillip H

Dear Mr. Gairson

My question to you regarding your definition of "processing notes" was not as unremarkable as you took the question. The response is that the processors of the Freedom of Information Act requests in the Significant Interest Group do not utilize notes, worksheets or exemption justification documentation. As you are aware from your previous FOIA requests, the exemptions utilized in the processing of request are set forth in the Final Action Letter, along with their definitions. Therefore there are no records which are responsive to your request

Phillip H. Schuley
Significant Interest Group

From: Jay Gairson

Dear Mr. Schuley:

My apologies if my bafflement came across in my message as anything other than confusion. My requests with other government agencies regularly produce processing notes that are requestable. I am surprised to hear that your group and CIS do not produce any paper trail in the processing of a FOIA request.

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

From: Jay Gairson

Mr Schuley:

I understand you may be busy or shorthanded with the government shutdown. I promise to be patient given that fact.

However, I did double check the USCIS FOIA Request Guide - http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/About%20Us/FOIA/uscisfoiarequestguide(10).pdf - rather than pestering you about my request. Reviewing that guide, I was reminded that USCIS uses FIPS for handling FOIA requests. This of course lead me to the Privacy Impact Assessment Update for FIPS 2012: http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy/PIAs/PIA%20Update%20USCIS%20FOIA-PA%20FIPS%2020121217%20signed%20(2).pdf .

My understanding is that with the FIPS system the SIG Analyst reviews and analyzes the original FOIA request, rephrases it if necessary, and identifies program offices within DHS/CIS that may have responsive records. This results in a message sent via ECN to the POC's (points of contact) within the designated program offices to search for records responsive to the FOIA request. The POCs then send a response to the SIG analyst the responsive records, who then inputs them into the FIPS system for processing, performs the necessary exemption assessments along with itemization and identification of the basis for those exemptions, and finally sends the responsive records to the requestor.

If my understanding is correct, then that means the SIG Analyst would produce records in the FIPS system identifying which program offices have responsive records and what POC's were contacted within those program offices. Furthermore, the ECN system would have a copy of the message sent to those POCs about the requests. And finally, the POCs would most likely have internal records - possibly also in FIPS or ECN - detailing their processing of the request to date.

Therefore, if I am correct regarding the above, I would like to rephrase my request to include the records or related or similar intent records as described above from the FIPS, ECN, POCs, and other related systems or actors.

Thank you for your time,

Jay Gairson

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

PS: My apologies for my typographic error in my earlier message, when I wrote: "COS2013000454" I intended "COW2013000454".

From: Schuley, Phillip H

I now understand which documents you are seeking and will open a case for the request

From: Schuley, Phillip H

Mr. Gairson

I will open a new case to provide you with the FOIA Logs not posted on the Reading Room site

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request 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 Sept. 23, 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 #COW2013000796.

Thank you for your help.

From: Jay Gairson

This notice is being sent to you to notify you that I am submitting an appeal on this case. I have prepared an appeal of the fee waiver denial on this request #COW2013000796 and have consolidated the fee waiver denial appeal with the fee waiver denials on requests COW2013000745, COW2013000838, and COW2013000793. The consolidated appeal is being sent under a separate heading from this message.

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

From: Jay Gairson

This notice is being sent to you to notify you that I am submitting an appeal on this case. I have prepared an appeal of the fee waiver denial on this request #COW2013000796 and have consolidated the fee waiver denial appeal with the fee waiver denials on requests COW2013000745, COW2013000838, and COW2013000793. The consolidated appeal is being sent under a separate heading from this message.

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

From: Schuley, Phillip H

Mr. Garrison

Inasmuch as you have appealed the fee waiver question, all of your cases have been put on hold until the appeal is decided

Phillip Schuley

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

A letter stating the request for reduced or waived fees has been rejected.

From: Jay Gairson

Please provide me with information as to the estimated cost of production. I request this information under protest and reserve the right to pursue judicial remedies.

Sincerely,

Jay Gairson

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 Sept. 23, 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 #APP2013001865.

Thank you for your help.

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 Sept. 23, 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 #APP2013001865.

Thank you for your help.

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