FOIA request: Cybersecurity Act of 2015 report (HUD)

Joshua Eaton filed this request with the Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspector General of the United States of America.
Tracking # 16-IGF-OIG/00137
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Joshua Eaton

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter constitutes a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 552, by independent journalist Joshua Eaton.

A. Request for disclosure

Under Section 406 of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the office of the inspector general for any federal agency that operates a national security system or a computer system containing personally identifiable information must submit a report to Congress by Aug. 14, 2016, outlining those systems' access controls and other security measures.

I seek disclosure of any and all such reports and/or audits prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by your agency between Dec. 1, 2015, and the date your office processes this request, inclusive.

B. Request for limitation of processing fees

I request a limitation of processing fees pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II) (“fees shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication when records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by ... a representative of the news media”). I fit within this statutory exemption. Fees associated with the processing of this request should, therefore, be limited accordingly.

I am a full-time, professional journalist who regularly contributes to The Christian Science Monitor and Teen Vogue. My reporting has also appeared at The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Al Jazeera America, and PRI's "The World." While I am a freelancer, my status as a regular contributor to The Christian Science Monitor and Teen Vogue, and my professional relationship with editors at a number of other publications, represent a solid basis for expecting publication. A complete list of my publications and my full résumé are available online at https://joshuaeaton.net.

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 processing fees cannot be limited, I am willing to pay up to $25. Please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

C. Request for fee waiver

I additionally request a waiver of all costs pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) (“Documents shall be furnished without any charge ... if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”).

Disclosure in this case meets the statutory criteria, and a fee waiver would fulfill Congress’s legislative intent in amending FOIA. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rossotti, 326 F.3d 1309, 1312 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (“Congress amended FOIA to ensure that it be ‘liberally construed in favor of waivers for noncommercial requesters.’”).

Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest. This request will further public understanding of government conduct — specifically, the government's efforts to secure federal computer systems containing personally identifiable information belonging to government employees, contractors, and citizens. Given the widespread damage caused by recent data breaches at both government agencies and private companies, understanding these efforts is of vital public interest.

Moreover, disclosure of the requested information will aid public understanding of federal agencies' compliance with the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. Congress passed this law in response to major data breaches at several federal government agencies. Understanding its implementation by federal agencies is, therefore, crucial to the public’s interest in understanding the consequences of this important legislation.

As a “representative of the news media,” supra Section B, I am well-situated to disseminate the information I gain from this request to the general public. Because I meet the test for a fee waiver, fees associated with responding to my FOIA requests should be – and regularly are – waived.

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 fees cannot be waived, I am willing to pay up to $25. Please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

D. Miscellany

Pursuant to applicable regulations and statute, I expect the determination of this request for records within 20 days of your receipt of this request. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i).

If this request is denied, in whole or in part, please justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions to FOIA. Your agency must also release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal any decision to withhold any information in whole or in part, to deny the request to limit processing fees, and/or to deny the request for a fee waiver.

I would prefer the request filled electronically, by email attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,
Joshua Eaton

From: OIG FOIARequests

This automated message is to confirm that your FOIA or Privacy Act request to the Office of the Inspector General was submitted. You will receive a written acknowlegement of receipt once your submission has been reviewed.

From: OIG FOIARequests

Dear Mr. Eaton:

The OIG is in receipt of your FOIA request. However, your request for reports is consider an improper FOIA request. You requested the following:

“I seek disclosure of any and all such reports and/or audits prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by your agency between Dec. 1, 2015, and the date your office processes this request, inclusive.”

Pursuant to the FOIA, a FOIA requester is required to reasonably describe the records sought. Your FOIA request, to the extent it seeks “any and all such reports and/or audits prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by your agency between Dec. 1, 2015, and the date your office processes this request, inclusive” does not qualify as reasonably descriptive. In that regard, HUD-OIG records are indexed and retrieved by reference to the names of companies and individuals who are subjects, complainants, or key witnesses in investigative or audit reports focusing on specific violations of laws. See 57 Fed. Reg. 25069, 25070-71 (June 12, 1992) (system of records notice for investigative files) as amended by 65 Fed. Reg. 50904 (August 21, 2000).

Please be more specific in the type of reports you are requesting. This office will hold your request up to 5 days.

If you’re referring to audit reports, please provide this office with the audit report number, or a description of such audit report. Or you are welcome to search for specific audit reports from our website at: https://www.hudoig.gov/reports-publications . You will also find any our Semiannual reports at: https://www.hudoig.gov/reports-publications/semiannual-reports

For updates to future audit or semiannual reports postings, please feel free to sign up at: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USHUDOIG/subscriber/new

From: Joshua Eaton

Thank you for your quick acknowledgement of my FOIA request.

It is my understanding that Section 406 of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General to submit a report and/or audit to Congress by Aug. 14, 2016, outlining HUD's cybersecurity measures. I am seeking disclosure of that report and/or audit.

If you have any other questions about the records I am requesting, please don't hesitate to let me know. Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,
Joshua Eaton

From: OIG FOIARequests

This automated message is to confirm that your FOIA or Privacy Act request to the Office of the Inspector General was submitted. You will receive a written acknowlegement of receipt once your submission has been reviewed.

From: Beasley, Gwendolyn

Dear Mr. Eaton:
Please find attached our acknowledgment letter concerning your FOIA request.

From: OIG FOIARequests

Dear Mr. Eaton:

This is an interim response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated August 14, 2016, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General (OIG). You requested the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 report for HUD. You also requested a fee waiver.

We have asked for the report and will provide it to you after we conduct our review. We also need to inform you that we have moved our offices to another building and are conducting a computer refresh, which has substantially impacted our ability to process FOIA requests. As to your request for a fee waiver, we are unable to make a determination at this time. We will make that determination when and if the records are released to you. It is our experience, however, that the charges for a record such as this report frequently do not meet the required minimum threshold and therefore incur no cost to the requester.

Should you have any questions, please contact me on 202-708-1613 or FOIARequests@hudoig.gov. Please reference the above FOIA number when making inquiries about this matter.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Stadel-Bevans

~~~~~
Cheryl L. Stadel-Bevans
FOIA Officer
Office of Legal Counsel
HUD-OIG
451 7th Street SW, Room 8260
Washington, DC 20410
202-708-1613 phone
FOIARequests@hudoig.gov<mailto:FOIARequests@hudoig.gov>

From: OIG FOIARequests

This automated message is to confirm that your FOIA or Privacy Act request to the Office of the Inspector General was submitted. You will receive a written acknowlegement of receipt once your submission has been reviewed.

From: OIG FOIARequests

Dear Mr. Eaton:

Our response to you is currently undergoing final review. I expect that we will be able to respond to you within a few days.

Sincerely,
Cheryl L. Stadel-Bevans

~~~~~
Cheryl L. Stadel-Bevans
FOIA Officer
Office of Legal Counsel
HUD-OIG
451 7th Street SW, Room 8260
Washington, DC 20410
202-708-1613 phone
FOIARequests@hudoig.gov<mailto:FOIARequests@hudoig.gov>

From: Joshua Eaton

Dear Ms. Stadel-Bevans,

Thank you for the update, and for being so communicative throughout the process — especially as you were moving offices. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Joshua Eaton

From: OIG FOIARequests

This automated message is to confirm that your FOIA or Privacy Act request to the Office of the Inspector General was submitted. You will receive a written acknowlegement of receipt once your submission has been reviewed.

From: Stadel-Bevans, Cheryl

Dear Mr. Eaton:
Attached please find our response to your request. In a second message, I will send you the responsive records.
Sincerely,
Cheryl L. Stadel-Bevans

From: Stadel-Bevans, Cheryl

Dear Mr. Eaton:
Attached please find the records responsive to your request.
Sincererly,
Cheryl L. Stadel-Bevans

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